"The issue is who decides what's good for Sun Devil Stadium, the Liquor Department or the Arizona Board of Regents," Ennis says. "I came down on the side of the regents because they bear the responsibility for whatever happens at Sun Devil Stadium." He admits some of his staff were opposed to his policy. But he defends it nevertheless by saying, "I was pursuing an agenda that the governor and the governor's closest advisers felt was a proper course, and that course was allowing the Board of Regents to decide on what went on in Sun Devil Stadium."
But members of the public complained to the Attorney General's Office and the Liquor Department. This brought Liquor Department investigators Dirk Brown and Richard Gilchrest to the skyboxes early in the Phoenix Cardinals' 1989 season. In October, they completed their investigation and filed a report that documented the Ennis-ASU negotiations. What's more, Brown and Gilchrest said that booze in the skyboxes resulted in a slew of liquor-law violations by ASU.
Ennis and Jonovich responded by ordering Gilchrest and Brown to continue their skybox inquiry.
"We wondered why they kept sending Dirk and Gilchrest back out to follow up on busy work, and each week there was another football game and alcohol was served in the skyboxes," says Steve Reynolds, the former investigations supervisor. "And this was after the attorney general told them it was illegal. Why didn't the superintendent give an order to cease and desist? Why didn't he do that? The AG is the main lawyer for the Liquor Department."
Ennis blames Gilchrest and Brown for the length of the investigation. "We brought it to a conclusion as quickly as we could," he says. "I'd ask a question and the investigators would come back without the answer. And I'd have to send them back out."
Instead of banning booze in the skyboxes or citing ASU for violations, Ennis ended up citing the Biltmore and Sun Devil Liquors for violating the liquor laws.
The Biltmore paid a $750 fine. A Liquor Department hearing officer fined Sun Devil Liquors $200, but Ennis raised it to $1,250. The hearing officer told Ennis he had a "bias" and asked him to withdraw the high fine. Ennis refused, but the Liquor Board reversed Ennis, saying Sun Devil Liquors was simply trying to carry out the plan devised by Ennis and ASU in the first place. Ennis called the Department of Public Safety in to investigate the mess. Eventually the DPS agreed with Gilchrest and Brown. During this time, Jonovich asked the two investigators to write a memo to explain why they thought liquor laws were being violated. In the memo, which was written in the spring of 1990, Brown emphasized Ennis' role in the mess and hinted that Ennis had needlessly extended the previous year's investigation.
Following the memo, says Reynolds, Jonovich unleashed internal investigations and there was "hell to pay."
Brown was the most vocal critic of Ennis. He also took the most heat from Jonovich's internal investigations. He was videotaped. He was followed. He was accused of falsifying his work logs, loafing on the job and of mishandling evidence by leaving a box of documents and copies on his desk and then leaving it in his car.
Ennis suggests Brown traded his badge and gun for a job as a truck driver because he couldn't face the consequences of the rigid internal investigation.
But former investigators and current employees say there was a clear pattern of harassing those who were critical of Ennis.
For instance, Ralph Robinson also strongly supported the work of Gilchrest and Brown. After the memo was written, he, too, became the subject of internal investigations that resulted in reprimands in his personnel file. At one point, in utter frustration, Robinson wrote Malody: "I am accused of misconduct of something by someone. As a result, I am the subject of an administrative internal investigation."
It turns out that Robinson was told he was being investigated because he informed investigator Liz Lenzen that she was being investigated for her mileage records. Robinson complained in a memo to Frank Malody that his only sin was that he told Lenzen "to cover her ass and take good notes."
Robinson also was punished because he and another supervisor failed to communicate over who was going to cover the office on a certain day.
"Basically, the internal investigations were started because of actual wrongdoing on the part of the employees," says Jonovich. "It had nothing to do with the skyboxes. It had to do with wrongdoing and I will not tolerate that."
Most staffers involved in the skybox probe, including Brown, Reynolds, and Robinson, have quit. In fact, the external-investigations staff has dwindled to 10 from 22 at the beginning of Ennis' regime, Reynolds says. Many quit after the barrage of internal investigations following the skybox fuss. As a result, each remaining investigator now monitors roughly 1,000 licensees throughout the state. Even for a fellow who loves "working liquor," like investigator Schrimpf--the guy who shot his gun into the office floor--this is a lot of work. Last year, Schrimpf put in 500 hours of overtime. Ennis calls the staff shrinkage "downsizing." He explains he "found some people I call `flotsam.' These are people who gravitate to state jobs that don't have a high demand for performance. We started demanding performance. There were a few who didn't like that demand for performance and they left."