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Ownership Update: Coyotes Lease Referendum Dead?

As Monday has now become Tuesday, a quick look at the calendar shows that it is July 10th. This is significant because more than 30 days have passed since the Glendale city council approved a lease agreement with prospective Phoenix Coyotes buyer Greg Jamison. That passing of 30 days also symbolizes the passing of the deadline to turn in a petition with signatures in order to put the lease agreement up for a vote in November. The petition was due on the July 9 at 5 p.m. Arizona Time. The deadline came and went and the petition was never filed. This opens the path for the NHL to complete the sale of the Coyotes to Greg Jamison.

There has been dispute by the two men involved in gathering signatures about  both the number of signatures needed and the date when the petition is required to be turned in. The City of Glendale says that about 1,862 valid signatures needed to be turned in on July 9. The referendum seekers say that about 1,600 valid signatures are needed by July 16. The difference in date is caused becasue the two men did not pick up their documents for a petition until June 16. The difference in number of signatures is based on the last city-wide election. Glendale requires that the number of signatures needed for any referendum be based on 10% of the voting population in the last city-wide election.  

So what does Arizona law say?

Number of signatures needed: There were 18,620 ballots cast in the 2008 city wide election. This means that 10% would equal 1,862 required signatures. The referendum seekers argue that they only needed 1,100 signatures because only 11,000 people voted in the 2010 election. The 2010 election was not a city-wide election. The referendum seekers then changed their claim to around 1,600 signatures because only 16,486 voted for the Glendale mayor in 2008. The answer is clearly stated in Section A of the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) number 19-142: “The whole number of votes cast at the citywide or townwide election at which a mayor or councilmen were chosen last preceding the submission of the application for a referendum petition against an ordinance, franchise or resolution shall be the basis on which the number of electors of the city or town required to file a referendum petition shall be computed. For the purposes of this section, a citywide or townwide election is an election at which all of the qualified electors of a city or town are eligible to vote for a mayor or members of the city or town council.”

Date: The Glendale City Council passed the lease agreement on June 8. The remainder of Section A of ARS 19-142 states: “The petition shall be filed with the city or town clerk within thirty days after passage of the ordinance, resolution or franchise.” The only time this would not be the case is if they city clerk does not provide the full and proper documentation the same business day it is requested as outlined in Section C of ARS 19-142: “At the time a person or organization intending to file a referendum petition against an ordinance or resolution applies for the issuance of an official number pursuant to section 19-111, the city or town clerk shall provide such person or organization with a full and correct copy of the ordinance or resolution in the form as finally adopted. If the copy of the ordinance or resolution proposed as a referendum is not available to such person or organization at the time of making application for an official number or on the same business day as the application is submitted, the thirty-day period prescribed in subsection A of this section begins on the day that the ordinance or resolution is available from the city or town clerk, and the ordinance or resolution shall not become operative until thirty days after the ordinance or resolution is available.”

The burden of proof is on the opposition to prove that Glendale did not provide the necessary documents in full when requested. Glendale, in a letter to the Goldwater Institute, says that they did provide all documentation necessary. The fate of the Coyotes may rest in the hands of the referendum seekers and the citizens of Glendale.