Los Arcos hockey arena supporters are worried that opponents may still thwart construction of the $1 billion project that will feature an 18,000-seat arena for the Guadalupe Coyotes and at least $352 million in taxpayer subsidies.
The Vote Yes Los Arcos! campaign committee has asked candidates for the upcoming Scottsdale City Council election to sign a pledge to support the project as described in the committee's publicity brochure. This despite the fact that detailed financial and design plans have not yet been made public.
Bud Sampson, chairman of Vote Yes Los Arcos!, says the pledge was sent on November 11 to candidates because several have expressed concerns about the Los Arcos project in the wake of the November 2 special election.
"Some candidates have said they would not support this," Sampson says.
The pledge was sent the same day that more than 200 people turned out for a campaign rally of People First, a Scottsdale group that is encouraging citizens to run for the council on a slow-growth, strong-neighborhoods platform. Six prospective council and mayoral candidates spoke during the three-hour rally at the Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch. People First plans to endorse candidates later this year.
People First has opposed the Los Arcos redevelopment project since its inception, saying the current plan is too expensive and amounts to corporate welfare for the Coyotes and their development partner, the Ellman Companies.
People First not only will endorse a slate of candidates for the council -- support for Los Arcos is already divided among sitting council members -- its members are considering asking voters to approve any redevelopment agreement that might be reached between the current council and Coyotes/Ellman before the March election.
"All indications are there will be some movement in the direction of referendum to try to block the Los Arcos project," says Tim Montgomery, a member of the People First founding committee.
"We also believe that once the citizens realize how much the city has to dish in incrementally to make this thing happen, they will realize from a raw financial standpoint that it is a fiasco," he says.
In the November 2 election, Scottsdale residents voted 58 percent to 42 percent to allow the Los Arcos Multipurpose Facilities District to collect up to $100 million in state sales taxes generated at the future development over the next 10 years and give the money to developers to cover construction costs.
The election also requires the Scottsdale City Council to consider entering into a redevelopment agreement with the Coyotes under which the city would contribute at least another $100 million to the project. The council, however, is under no legal obligation to approve the redevelopment agreement with the team -- despite the November 2 vote. If the council -- or voters -- reject a redevelopment agreement, the project likely will die.
The redevelopment agreement is expected to come before the council early next year. Under a financing plan suggested by developers, taxpayers will end up contributing $200 million of the $535 million cost (the price tag rises to $1 billion with interest).
The cost to taxpayers could rise much higher if the council approves a plan requested by developers to sell bonds backed by future state and city sales tax revenues generated by the project. Under the bonding plan, the taxpayers' contribution will increase from $200 million to between $352 million and $390 million over 30 years.
A referendum would, at a minimum, delay the project until an election could be held either in March, or possibly May. The Coyotes already face a very tight construction timetable for the arena, which will take at least 18 months to build. The team wants to move into its new home for the start of the 2001 season. The team's lease at America West Arena expires at the conclusion of the 2000-2001 season.
The pledge asks prospective candidates "to support the planning, zoning and construction processes with all deliberate speed so that the Los Arcos project can be completed as expeditiously as possible."
The pledge also demands that candidates "will not encourage or support litigation or other tactics that could delay the construction or completion of the Los Arcos project."
Sampson says his group will back council candidates who declare their support for the project and campaign against those who refuse to sign the pledge. "I'm sure we are going to let people know [which candidates] are not going to support Los Arcos, and which candidates are," says Sampson.
Two candidates made it clear they had no intention of signing the pledge.
"I'm certainly not going to take any pledge like that," says Ned O'Hearn. "I think it is more of a ploy. If anybody is taking a pledge here, I would hope it would be the developers, to get off their advertising stance and level with us."
Candidate Gary Tredway says the pledge is "an attempt by the Ellman Companies to railroad details of their project through the council, and causes a chilling of public debate."
Tredway says the Coyotes shelled out $400,000 to win the November 2 vote, outspending opponents by a ratio of 200 to 1.
"Do they now plan to finance a council campaign that will again spend heavily to defeat anyone who doesn't toe their line?" Tredway asks.
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists is looking for a few good panelists. The 2000 convention will unfold in Houston. According to an e-mail intercepted by the Flash, NAHJ members are instructed to send their suggestions for panelists to Julie Amparano.
Hey, the Flash has a keen idea: How about a freewheeling panel composed of reporters who got fired for making stuff up?
Was Wyatt Earp Gay?
Last December and March, New Times wrote about the controversy surrounding Glenn Boyer, who for decades had been considered the world's foremost authority on Wyatt Earp ("How the West Was Spun," December 24; "I Varied Wyatt Earp," March 4; both by Tony Ortega). For years, Boyer had angrily fought off claims that some of his books contained dubious information and were more historical fiction than history. Some Boyer critics even dared challenge the authenticity of Boyer's masterpiece, I Married Wyatt Earp, which was supposedly the memoir of Wyatt Earp's third wife, Josephine.
Boyer edited the book from, he claimed, Josephine Earp's own manuscripts. Published in 1976 by the University of Arizona Press, the book had become a staple in college classes. Some of Boyer's harshest critics charged that Boyer had fooled the University of Arizona Press by telling his own version of the famous Gunfight at the OK Corral in Josephine Earp's voice, passing it off as her own memories. Boyer responded that most of his critics were just homosexuals and pedophiles.
New Times interviewed Boyer about his methods and obtained the original correspondence between Boyer and UofA Press officials during the book's preparation in the early 1970s. Boyer's statements and the documents provided by the university suggested that not only had Boyer filled his books with questionable material, but the University Press knew that Boyer's sources were suspect.
Western historians howled in protest, saying that they couldn't believe a university press would do such a thing. But UofA president Peter Likins responded that I Married Wyatt Earp's blend of fact and fiction was the sort of thing historians do these days. Likins said that after the university had marketed the book for 23 years as an authentic, significant artifact of Western history.
Last week the Flash learned that university officials have had a change of heart. UofA Press officials divulged to Wyatt Earp expert Allen Barra that they plan to come out with a new version of I Married Wyatt Earp which will carry a new cover. No longer will the book's author be Josephine Earp and its editor Glenn Boyer. Reflecting the book's status as more historical novel than memoir, the new book will be "by Glenn Boyer."
A letter from the UofA Press to Barra states: "We plan to incorporate the following changes to I Married Wyatt Earp: redesign the cover and rewrite the cover copy, change the authorship from Josephine Earp to Glenn Boyer, and add a publisher's note to the copyright page regarding sources used in the book."
Barra says officials also revealed that new material inside the book will reflect that Boyer's sources have come into question. Barra, who has helped promote the controversy about Boyer's books, says even that change doesn't go far enough to correct the decades of harm Boyer has caused to Earp studies.
But the Flash thinks the UofA couldn't have found a better way to skewer Boyer, the homophobe who claims that the enemies who faced Earp at the OK Corral and the critics who question his books are all meddlesome queers. Boyer now finds himself the author of a book with a mildly humorous suggestion on its cover: "I Married Wyatt Earp by Glenn Boyer."
The Flash wanted to know what Boyer thinks, but the cantankerous writer said, "No comment." That's a first.
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