Phoenix--Today the Goldwater Institute filed suit against the City of Glendale for denying a public records request regarding the potential sale of the Coyotes hockey team.
On June 23, 2009 the Goldwater Institute sent a public records request to the City of Glendale, Arizona asking for all documents related to the negotiations with any potential new owner of the Coyotes. The request also asked for all future records to be forwarded to the Goldwater Institute as they are created. Glendale denied both parts of the request, saying the negotiations were confidential and that it would be burdensome to send future records.
"The denial of this records request is a clear violation of Arizona's public records law," said Carrie Ann Sitren, an attorney with the Goldwater Institute. "Courts have given clear instruction about how to handle sensitive information in public records and how to handle on-going requests for public records. Glendale followed neither instruction. The City is deliberately keeping public records from the public, and $20 million in taxpayer money could be at stake."
When the records request was denied, the Goldwater Institute asked for case law that provided the basis for the City's decision to withhold the records. The cases cited do not provide a legal basis for denying the Goldwater Institute request, said Ms. Sitren.
The Goldwater Institute requested these public records because the City has said in numerous media reports that it intends to offer some form of taxpayer subsidy to a new owner as an incentive to keep the team in Glendale. The potential subsidies reported have ranged from free rent of the City-owned Jobing.com arena to a direct subsidy of up to $10 million a year. All of the reported potential subsidies could violate the Arizona Constitution's "Gift Clause," which is at the center of a Goldwater Institute legal challenge against the City of Phoenix.
"If Glendale is considering offering taxpayer money to potential buyers of the Coyotes, taxpayers have an interest in those negotiations," continued Ms. Sitren. "There is no reason taxpayers shouldn't have access to those records. Indeed, this situation is exactly why public records laws were created."
The suit was filed by the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation in Maricopa County Superior Court. For more information about this or any other Goldwater Institute lawsuit to protect individual rights and keep government within its constitutional limits, please visit http://goldwaterinstitute.org/litigation. The Goldwater Institute is a nonprofit public policy research and litigation organization whose work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters.