(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
I have heard a lot of people say that the Goldwater Institute embarrassed themselves during the court case and I'm not entirely sure that's the case. Firstly, because you usually need to feel shame to be embarrassed and that's something groups like the GWI lack, and secondly because this is exactly what they wanted. The GWI enjoys making themselves the story, and taking the City of Glendale to court is the way they continue to make themselves the story.
Judge Fink's opening remarks set the tone for the the rest of the case. One of the first things he said was that this was going to be decided by arguing alone and no evidence, which meant that we were going to be hearing a lot of lawyer speak. This was going to be a day where we argued over the legal definition of "professional services" and we talked about bonds for preliminary injunction, not a day where people scream that this whole system is out of order. That's not to say there wasn't a bit of humor, 2 cell phones went off and the judge said that the people of Glendale can tell the Coyotes to "get the puck out."
Goldwater's Carrie Ann Sitren spoke first, and I have to say Judge Fink did not appear to be impressed. From my position he looked bored the entire time, he sat forward with his head in his hands, and he just seemed fed up with this whole situation. Every few minutes he would take some notes, or doodle, I couldn't see his paper. A few times Judge Fink would stop Sitren and ask her some questions, but that alone is not enough for me to say whether he was swayed or not.
Goldwater's started their case arguing with what they thought was going to be their strongest point, the lack of competitive bidding in before the sale. Really this is the only aspect of the case that actually matters, it is the only thing that could cause a revote. Sitren argued a few things in regards to this, first that there are a few cases where the arena managers aren't the same groups as the owners, second that arena management is a competitive profession, and third that arena management is not a "professional service" that would be exempt from the competitive bidding requirement.
The second aspect of their argument is that the fact that the "Emergency Clause" is still written down even though it did not take effect. They argued that this would limit peoples' ability to collect signatures, because the responsible people of Glendale would of course read the entire documents and get to the emergency clause section and think that they weren't allowed to do any kind of referendum.
The Judge didn't seem to buy this argument, he speculated that the GWI releasing a press statement would probably suffice. I would go further and say that nobody actually reads the things that the sign, I signed 3 petitions waiting for the light rail and didn't read a single thing. GWI's argument is that the people of Glendale are responsible enough to read a document and understand the legal ramifications of an emergency clause but they are easily confused and skeptical of people asking them to sign petitions. God I hope that's the case, and people actually question the people requesting their signature.
Because there is no emergency clause in place the people of Glendale are able to attempt to collect enough signatures to get this matter to be voted on, but the Goldwater Institute wants more and they made a case by misrepresenting what we all know to be true. They argued that if it is struck down Glendale can just start over and do the entire process again, and that Glendale will not suffer "significant harm." It really didn't surprise me to see a lawyer lie with a straight face but it gave me hope to see a judge question that statement, Judge Fink was aware that there are other players who may decide they are done with headache that is Glendale, which could have been the big giveaway of which way he is sitting but its too early to tell.
Next time we talk about the city's argument