Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon apparently os breaking his silence about the State of Downtown Fund, graciously granting the Arizona Republic an interview.
The article states that Gordon isn't using any of the money donated by corporations and businesses to the State of Downtown Fund for personal use. And he points out that there aren't any laws that specifically dictate how that money can be spent.
What Gordon didn't answer in the Republic article is: Who was reimbursed $3,221 in 2008 for "NFL charges"? And what was that money spent on?
Was that money used to get Gordon and his girlfriend and former political fundraiser, Elissa Mullany, into the 2008 Super Bowl? Because that would certainly fall under "personal use."
Photographs on Mullany's Facebook page revealed she attended the Super Bowl.
Dave Roderique, CEO of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership that administers the State of Downtown Fund, said that the invoice for that expense didn't indicate who got the money or who went to the game.
Gordon's chief of staff, Debra Stark, previously said she relayed New Times' question to the mayor, but his only response was that questions had to be submitted in writing to him.
New Times asked that question, and several others in writing, on April 19. Gordon has not responded.
It's easy for Gordon to maintain that the money was all used appropriately -- only for marketing and promoting downtown -- when shoddy or incomplete record-keeping doesn't provide even a clue to who is getting the money.
We asked Gordon, who told the Republic that he has final say over expenses in the State of Downtown account, to explain a few of those expenses.
For example, in September and October 2009, the State of Downtown spent $10,914 and $1,495, respectively, on "City Events." We asked what specific "City Eents" these expenditures entailed.
We also asked: What company or individual was paid $21,424 in November 2009 to manage the State of Downtown event? And in February 2008, the State of Downtown shows a reimbursement of $3,221 for NFL charges. Who was reimbursed, and why?
Roderique has said the invoice for that expense did not include who attended the Super Bowl game.
We asked Gordon who used the tickets?
The truth will eventually come out.
Just as it did regarding Gordon's girlfriend working for Phoenix mega developer Steve Ellman. Gordon told New Times that he wasn't going to answer questions about who her clients were, and e-mails from Gordon's hired flak at the time indicate that staff members were told to say they weren't aware of whether Mullany was working for Ellman.
Those same e-mails, requested by New Times, revealed that Mullany did have a contract with Ellman for at least six months in 2009. And Ellman has a redevelopment project in central Phoenix that is expected to eventually work its way before the City Council.
The lack of transparency from the Mayor's Office is troubling.
Perhaps a review of the city's Ethics Handbook is in order. In its opening statement, it reminds elected officials and employees that city policy is to "uphold, promote and demand the highest standards of ethics" and that "the City Council should maintain the utmost standards of personal integrity, truthfulness, honesty and fairness ... avoid any improprieties in their roles as public servants, and never use their City position or powers for improper personal gain."
The Ethics Handbook's section on "Gifts, Favors and Extra Compensation" calls for a "total prohibition" on accepting "tickets to attend or participate in any sporting or cultural event or activity" that are paid for by anyone who has business before the city, "regardless of the amount of the expenditure and regardless of whether or not there is any intent or the appearance of any intent to influence a municipal decision."
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