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A Million Here, a Million There . . .
Governor J. Fife Symington III's penchant for creative accounting knows no bounds. When it's time to borrow money, he's worth a fortune. When it's time to repay loans or pay taxes, the property is squalid.

Symington's varying valuations of an office building at the Camelback Esplanade betray his financial schizophrenia. In May 1990, when he was seeking a $10 million loan to finance the Mercado in downtown Phoenix, Symington told a consortium of union pension funds that the Esplanade office building was worth $67.5 million. That valuation was based on a 1987 appraisal, which Symington used to calculate his equity at $2.65 million--a significant portion of his claimed $11.9 million net worth.

While the Fifester was telling the pension funds the Esplanade was worth $67.5 million, an appraisal he'd commissioned a few months earlier put the building's worth at $44.6 million, a sum that would have reduced his equity by one third.

Symington didn't bother to mention the more recent appraisal to the pension funds when he was seeking the $10 million Mercado loan.

Symington attorney Robert Shull says Symington "disagreed with the techniques used by the appraiser" in the 1990 valuation of the building and "therefore disagreed with his conclusions." Symington liked the higher number, Shull told a Phoenix daily, because "he believed that was the long-term value of the project."

But that's not what Symington thought in the spring of 1990, when he protested his Maricopa County property-tax bill. At that time, he was outraged over the county's excessive valuation of the building: a whopping $33.6 million.

In his property-tax protest, Symington claimed the Esplanade office building was worth--hold on--only $16.8 million.

If the Fifester were courageous enough to return New Times' phone calls, we would be inclined to ask him how much the Esplanade building was really worth. Was it:

A. The $67.5 million "long-term" value he needed to secure a $10 million loan?

B. The $44.6 million appraisal he disagreed with in 1990 because it was too low?

C. The county's $33.6 million valuation that he insisted was too high?
D. His stated value of a measly $16.8 million when it came time to pay property taxes?

E. John Yeoman's fault?

Singin' in the Reign
You read it here first (April 18): the item about the resurrection of Guv: The Musical, the dishy satire of state politics that opened in 1990 and played to sold-out houses for 20 months.

Now, it's official: The new incarnation of political lampoonery will be elegantly titled Guv: The Emperor Strikes Back.

Producers of the new show--which opens September 11 for a monthlong run at the new Scottsdale Playhouse--aren't tipping their hands as to content.

But executive producer Bruce Miles asks rhetorically, "What rhymes with Arpaio?" Tickets: 678-2222.

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