Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs was convinced that Channel 12 reporter Brahm Resnik misquoted her in a July 17 post on www.azcentral.com, city records show. In fact, Scruggs was angry enough to tell other city officials she wanted to demand a retraction.
But the tale of the tape scuttled that idea.
At issue was a piece Resnik did about the ongoing Phoenix Coyotes imbroglio. Resnik reported that Jerry Reinsdorf, who hopes to keep the team in Glendale, was seeking $15 million in incentives from the city. He quoted Scruggs as saying, "That's far beyond anything we would be willing to do regardless of our means."
According to internal city emails recently released by the city thanks to a lawsuit from the Goldwater Institute, after seeing the blog post, Scruggs emailed City Spokeswoman Julie Frisoni, City Manager Ed Beasley, and the city attorney on August 3.
"I know the statement he has attributed to me is not as I said it because I heard myself saying it to him on the Channel 12 news last night," Scruggs wrote, a bit huffily. "I want him to correct the record and print it exactly as I said it, as I heard it last night. The way he has it below, I am speaking for the entire council -- as if we had discussed a request for $15 million in concessions and rejected it.
"What I said was something to the effect that in my own opinion I thought the council would not be favorable toward such a request, even if we had the means."
The mayor added, "The way Brahm has it printed is flat wrong. I want it printed correctly. I do not want to become another reason for a bid to be withdrawn, etc. I do not want to be part of a court case saying information was leaked, etc."
Memory is a funny thing, though, as Mayor Scruggs was soon to learn. Because, as it turns out, what she heard herself saying on the news was almost exactly what Resnik reported her saying in the subsequent blog post.
As city spokeswoman Julie Frisoni kindly pointed out to the mayor in an email the next day, the quote came "directly" from the TV interview. (Frisoni, unlike Scruggs, appears to have taken the time to watch the piece before sending off her email.) "I'll send you the link in a minute," Frisoni wrote.
But Scruggs would have none of it.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
She responded that she, too, had finally watched the tape. And she found a mistake: "Brahm left out one word when he took my comments from July 14 ... That word is 'probably.' What I said on tape is, 'That's probably far beyond anything we would be willing to do regardless of our means [emphasis added].'"
Now, Resnik's reporting was obviously much closer to what Scruggs really said than what she herself remembered ("something to the effect that in my own opinion I thought the council would not be favorable toward such a request"). But the mayor was not backing down. She also complained about Resnik made it sound like she knew the details of the Reinsdorf proposal at the time of the interview, when she in fact did not.
"Brahm's reporting seems dishonest to me," she wrote. "I think I need to register a protest and a request for a retraction. What do you feel?"
The official city trail goes cold at that point -- but Frisoni just confirmed to us in a quick email that Glendale ultimately did not seek a retraction. Wise move; we can only imagine that azcentral.com's handlers would have been pretty blase over a missing qualifier.