The Phantom Report

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Part of the review of revenue and expenses will likely include the Flexer report, which Campana promises to make public after she sees the document.

"There is going to be all the sunshine there possibly can be," she says.

Project opponents will carefully monitor redevelopment negotiations.

Scottsdale lawyer Alan Kaufman (no relation to Bob Kaufman of the Ellman Companies) has fought the project from its inception. He says opponents may seek a referendum on the redevelopment agreement, depending on provisions of the document, and possibly on any rezoning issues related to the project.

A referendum would give Scottsdale voters a third vote on the project, probably in March or May.

Calls seeking comment from the Coyotes and the Ellman Companies concerning the impact on construction plans of a referendum were not returned. The Coyotes have said they want to fast-track construction of the arena so that it would be completed for the 2001-2002 season. The team's lease expires at the America West arena after the 2001 season.

The Coyotes' and Ellman Companies' financial plan to build the $1 billion (including $500 million in interest) project that features a $185 million hockey arena and a $100 million parking garage has been attacked by Alan Kaufman and his supporters as corporate welfare.

The state law that allowed creation of the Facilities District -- the statute expired November 3 -- requires Scottsdale to match what the district raises from the state sales tax. That would be about $100 million. Developers want the city to earmark 1.2 percent in city taxes collected from the development for up to 30 years to cover the city's contribution.

However, that $200 million state and city sales tax contribution would skyrocket to nearly $400 million, because developers don't want to wait for the taxes to actually be collected. Instead, they want to sell bonds when construction is completed, and use the proceeds to pay down their debt for building the arena, parking garage and adjacent retail businesses. Developers expect the bonds to be worth $151 million to $185 million.

Taxpayers will repay the bonds, with interest, over 20 to 30 years, raising their contribution to the project from around $200 million required by the Facilities District law to about $400 million.

Alan Kaufman says voters have grown increasingly uneasy over the project as more detailed financial information has come forth.

"The more people know about this project, the less they like about it," he says.

Kaufman says a sophisticated early-balloting campaign by the Coyotes delivered their desired verdict.

Early, mail-in ballots accounted for 52 percent of the total vote cast -- 65 percent of the early ballots favored the project. Voters going to the polls on election day, however, voted 52 percent in favor and 48 percent against. The final tally, including early ballots and election-day results was 58 percent in favor and 42 percent against.

"We feel that the more the public begins to understand the horrible consequences of this package, they more likely they are to encourage their elected city council representatives to turn it down," Alan Kaufman says. "This is far from over."

Jason Rose, a Republican political consultant who managed the election campaign for the Coyotes, says Kaufman and his supporters are wasting their time in trying to undo the election by seeking a referendum on the redevelopment agreement.

"If they want to do it because they love democracy, go for it," Rose says. "I think the voters have clearly indicated, if they do seek a referendum, that they clearly are going to lose."

The November 2 election marks the first time more than 50 percent of the ballots in a Scottsdale election were cast prior to election day.

Early balloting has fundamentally changed how Arizona election campaigns are conducted. Rather than a single election day, early balloting begins 33 days before the day polls are open. Well-financed campaigns, such as Yes on Los Arcos, can identify supporters, contact them and urge them to obtain an early ballot and vote in favor of their project or candidate.

Rose says the Coyotes spent about $70,000 of a $550,000 campaign tab to find early voters who were likely to support the project. Opponents spent about $2,200 on the entire campaign.

The monthlong voting process requires the media to rethink the way they cover elections. Media must begin to provide full and accurate information to the public long before the traditional election day -- something the media has generally failed to do.

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John Dougherty
Contact: John Dougherty