Last week when the City of Glendale filed a motion to amend the Temporary Restraining Order levied against the City, they provided more emails between former City Attorney Craig Tindall, former City Communications Director Julie Frisoni, and IceArizona executives. These emails brought the City's case - and legal strategy - into a clearer focus than before.
My initial impression of the new documents is that Glendale's case is stronger than I originally thought. While that isn't exactly a high bar to clear, Glendale has documented evidence of an extended conversation over several years between Tindall and Anthony LeBlanc. The conversation dates all the way back to the Memorandum of Understanding reached back in early 2010 with IceEdge Holdings.
With this in mind, my guess is that Glendale's argument works like this: Tindall was one of the chief negotiators/architects of the original management agreement. Since the subsequent agreement with IceArizona involves many of the same players and structure as the first go around, and that Tindall and LeBlanc maintained an active correspondence even when IceEdge was not formally in the negotiating process, Glendale will conclude that there existed a conflict of interest sufficient to violate A.R.S. 38-511.
Two things work in Glendale's favor here. The first is that there is a strong presumption against conflicts of interest that benefit business at taxpayer expense. You can argue all you want about the specifics of the conflict and any mitigating circumstances that may exist, but if the appearance of impropriety exists, that may be enough for a court to rule in Glendale's favor.
The other problem is the fact that IceArizona hired Tindall at all. To be fair, it's difficult to say that Canadian businessmen should have known about one specific law nestled among 1141 separate statutes, within one title of 49 different parts of the Arizona Revised Statutes. That's a lot of law to comb through, even for lawyers. But why take the risk? LeBlanc knew better than anyone how local players could throw wrenches into the machinery. And he had to know members of the City Council (though certainly not all of them) did not like the agreement and might try to find ways to nullify it.
So why make Tindall general counsel? Why open yourself up to accusations of impropriety? Why run the risk that perhaps there is some statute that could toss out the whole agreement based on a conflict of interest? The only one who truly knows why is Anthony LeBlanc. And whatever reasons he used to decide to hire Tindall, he may have cost himself the agreement he worked so hard to get.
- There's another very interesting train of thought that might explain the bigger picture here. The whole timeline of Tweets is worth a read.
- In summary: Glendale has little interest in winning this case. Rather, their goal is to withhold arena payments for long enough that IceArizona has to come to the bargaining table to get a better deal if they want to stay afloat.
- It would explain why certain Glendale councilmembers seem to be talking more about "getting a better deal" than "following the law".
- I don't think the "smoking gun" email is much of a gun at all. Tindall responds to a query from then-current City Council members about a couple of parts of the deal. He mentions that one part of the agreement is outdated. That doesn't rise to the level of "substantial" contributions in my opinion.
- But, there's room for debate. And if Glendale is looking for a protracted legal fight, there's enough ambiguity to drag this out for a while.
- In non-legal news, it's NHL Draft week! Will the Coyotes be active making trades on the draft floor?
- Patrick Sharp and Kyle Okposo are the two most tantalizing names being dangled around as trade bait. Here's a comparison of their stats last season at 5v5 play:
- Sharp makes $5.5 million this upcoming year and $5 million in 2016-17, while Okposo makes $4.5 million this coming season before becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer.
- The Islanders don't have an immediate need to clear cap space like Chicago does, but Okposo is cheaper and easier for other teams to bid for. Sharp has a longer contract and a better long-term track record, but it may be harder for contending teams to bid for him while staying out of cap trouble.
- If the Coyotes are looking to add a more veteran presence on the wing, either Sharp or Okposo would be a good acquisition. And theoretically the team could part with its late first or early second rounder to make it happen.
- But with where the Coyotes are at right now, it might be better to spend their money on their RFAs, make a couple of shorter overpays on free agents to fill gaps, and reach the salary floor without sacrificing assets in this year's Draft.
- Be sure to check back tomorrow and Wednesday for the conclusion of SB Nation's Mock Draft. We're going to announce our 30th overall pick, as well as possible targets at #32.