The Mouth That Should've Roared

Because Hugh Hallman went suddenly silent, Tempe wound up losing the Cardinals and the Fiesta Bowl

Mayor Giuliano told me that the city went along with the strategy of avoiding any appearance that SRP was backing the stadium tax while at the same time angling to get the stadium built on land it owned.

It was widely believed that the tax referendum would fail. But two days after the Cardinals beat the Washington Redskins 16-15, voters were revved up enough to approve the stadium tax by about a 4 percent margin.

Then, voilà, immediately after the election, Tempe switched its proposed stadium location to the SRP site east of Priest Drive on the north bank of the Salt River.

The many faces of Hugh Hallman.
photos by Kevin Scanlon
The many faces of Hugh Hallman.
With Dennis Cahill, at least we know what to expect.
Kevin Scanlon
With Dennis Cahill, at least we know what to expect.

As I hinted earlier, there was one huge problem with the SRP property. It was directly in line with the final approach to Sky Harbor's newest, longest and most expensive runway.

Now for those of you who aren't way ahead of me in unraveling this tangled web meant to deceive, here's why this matters in these final days before the mayoral election:

The site on the SRP property was clearly a location that Tempe councilman Hugh Hallman knew full well would raise serious safety concerns with the airport and the Federal Aviation Administration.

For Christ's sake, he had been studying aircraft flight paths and screeching about airport noise for years!

Cahill voted for the SRP site as well, but he did so out of ignorance. He says he went for the SRP location after it was clear the landfill site wouldn't work. He dumbly didn't think that Sky Harbor and the FAA would have any objections to the SRP location.

In Cahill's favor, unlike Hallman, he simply had not been as steeped in aircraft noise issues.

My point is, this was the time for Hallman to stand up and raise a ruckus. He had long played a central role on the city's aviation committee and knew FAA rules inside out.

Yet -- rather than publicly question the SRP site, as he had done on dozens of less important airport noise matters -- Hallman hypocritically supported the city's decision to hire a private consultant to address airport-related issues at the location.

He copped out when the city needed him most.

When the issue was more about danger to prospective patrons at Cardinals stadium than just jet noise over his own blessed neighborhood.

To make matters worse, the consultant later misled the Tourism and Sports Authority by stating that Tempe already had obtained preliminary approval from the FAA for the SRP site.

Hallman now says he supported the SRP site because it appeared to be farther from Sky Harbor's flight paths than Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix. Both locations are about the same distance from the end of the runway. The FAA didn't object to Bank One because jets do not fly directly over it, as they would have done at low altitudes over the proposed SRP site.

Hugh, you had to know this. Phoenix officials had not been yelling about airport noise for years as you had. We had reason to believe you wouldn't sell citizens out.

So instead of saving Tempe from (among other things) shooting itself in the foot, Hallman was quiet for once and City Hall supported a sneaky plan to build a 63,000-seat stadium 1.8 miles from the end of a runway at the world's fifth-busiest airport.

He also leaned into a punch, because Sky Harbor now had a golden opportunity to blast its chief nemesis in Tempe. Almost as soon as the SRP site was approved by the Tourism and Sports Authority, pilots began complaining that the site was unsafe. The result was that in July 2001, the FAA announced it would conduct a special review.

Hallman claims that he wound up doing the right thing, at least. He says that, after the SRP site was a go, he remembered an obscure 1990 agreement that Tempe signed with the FAA placing height restrictions on buildings on SRP land.

That wound up being the final nail in the SRP site's coffin, and the project eventually ended up in Glendale, where the stadium is now under construction.

So let me sum it up for you: As a longtime Tempe resident myself, I'm blaming Hallman for the fact that the 2008 Super Bowl will be played in Glendale instead of Tempe and that the Fiesta Bowl will be leaving Sun Devil Stadium for Glendale.

Hallman -- who had painted a big target on the city by pissing off airport officials for years with his noise attacks -- did not speak out against the city's double-cross to put the Cardinals stadium in a dangerous area. Then, Sky Harbor delighted in sticking it to a deal that loudmouth anti-noise advocate Hugh Hallman supported.

Hallman only brought up the height restrictions on SRP land when it was clear that Tempe's attempt to keep the Cardinals in town was -- thanks to him -- in the toilet.

Sad thing is, such two-faced behavior is nothing new for Hallman.

Fresh out of the University of Chicago law school, Hallman soon attracted the wrong kind of scrutiny from his associates at Brown & Bain in the early '90s. At one point, Hallman was reprimanded by a fellow attorney after it appeared he had falsely portrayed himself as a partner in the law firm. This is considered a gross affront in the legal world -- akin to impersonating an officer in the military (a brig-able offense).

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"Sad thing is, such two-faced behavior is nothing new for Hallman." 2004Unfortunately for the families at Tempe Prep, who are now the recipients of his duplicity.He continues this behavior, playing politics at the academy. His long time friend, now has a seat on the Board. He represents himself to the public as having been the academy's attorney for a long time, when he was only hired for one purpose in 2005, according to the public record. Other attorneys were hired for purposes Hallman claims were in his purview. 2011Some behaviors are enduring.

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