Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon has established a new policy: He will no longer speak personally with New Times or the Arizona Republic. He will only accept questions from the publications if reporters submit them in writing.
How very Joe Arpaio-esque.
What's next? Will the mayor start banning reporters who ask tough questions from his press conferences, as Arpaio does? Lock them out of City Hall?
The policy change was effective Wednesday and requires that all questions be submitted to his latest private-sector PR flack, David Leibowitz.
Gordon must be feeling the pressure of repeated scrutiny about how he's conducted business in the Mayor's Office over the past several months -- especially that related to his girlfriend Elissa Mullany.
(SEE UPDATE to the Gordon/Mullany saga, in which respected former City Manager Frank Fairbanks disputes a statement by Gordon regarding the mayor's hiring of Mullany's business partner's sister.)
City Hall insiders confirmed that Mullany was working for Phoenix mega-developer Steve Ellman in 2009. During that time, Mullany arranged dinner meetings between Gordon and Ellman. Mullany and Gordon also traveled to Qatar alone, leaving behind city employees who had expected to be part of the economic-development trip.
According to Gordon's calendar, Ellman sat in on economic development meetings in the Mayor's Office, had dinner with Gordon and a Saudi Arabia oil mogul, traveled to Mexico and had meetings Gordon and with Mexican officials and billionaire Carlos Slim.
It's unclear why Ellman, an international developer, would need to hire Mullany.
Neither Mullany nor Ellman returned phone calls seeking comment.
What is clear is that Ellman is gearing up to usher through the city planning process a redevelopment project near 27th Street and Camelback Road under the guise of a limited-liability corporation called 2747 Camelback.
Late last year, New Times revealed that Gordon paid his girlfriend more than $200,000 for raising money for his various political-action and campaign committees.
Gordon's former flack, Jason Rose, insisted that all the payments were on the up-and-up, but records showed that Mullany was paid for managing an account that had been dormant for years and was paid generously even when she didn't actually raise any money.
In addition to that $200,000, Gordon paid Mullany $100,000 for raising money for the State of Downtown, a marketing fund to promote the area. Private corporations and public entities, including Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Metro Light Rail, also have poured money into the fund.
Inexplicably, there is an unexplained 2008 expense to the NFL from the State of Downtown fund for more than $3,000. City staffers and Gordon's aides say they do not know what the money was used for, and that Gordon hasn't told them.
Gordon's office told New Times it would have to file a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) letter for that information.
Gordon has refused to release his security detail's logs that would show how he and his publicly funded security personnel spend their time. A source says the logs would show how often the detail taxied Mullany around town. When his office recently released Gordon's 2009 calendars, they were missing key information that established a connection between his girlfriend and Ellman.
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Gordon also has been publicly criticized for hiring Sue Lindmeier, the sister of his girlfriend's business partner, Cate Wunder.
As a contract city employee, Lindmeier makes $50 an hour for managing Gordon's calendar and for making his travel arrangements. She told the Republic that she also got paid privately by Gordon, from June to December, to manage the renovation of his central-Phoenix home.
Lindmeier wasn't the only family member of Mullany's partner who has snagged a job in the Mayor's Office. Wunder's twenty-something son, Kevin, was also on the city payroll in 2008, serving as a liaison between the Mayor's Office and certain council members.
Phoenix officials told the Republic on Wednesday that Lindmeier's public and private contracts were vetted by then-City Manager Frank Fairbanks and by City Attorney Gary Verburg. On Thursday the newspaper reported that Lindmeier didn't have a formal contract.