Rep. Montenegro drops asks to investigate constitutionality of Tempe’s Coyotes agreement

Apr 25, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: 5:53 pm

(Arizona Coyotes Rendering)...

(Arizona Coyotes Rendering)

(Arizona Coyotes Rendering)

PHOENIX — West Valley state Rep. Steve Montenegro on Tuesday withdrew the request he made a day earlier to the Attorney General’s office to investigate whether the city of Tempe’s pursuit of an entertainment district for the Arizona Coyotes is in accordance with the Arizona Constitution.

In a Tuesday letter, Montenegro said his he dropped the ask “based on information and written assurances I have received.”

In his letter to Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes on Monday, Montenegro questioned Tempe’s requirement of a referendum election for the Arizona Coyotes’ development arm, Bluebird Development LLC.

“The Arizona Constitution does not allow the city to directly refer measures to the ballot, but the development agreement with Bluebird appears to be an indirect and unconstitutional attempt to do so,” Montenegro wrote in his letter to the attorney general.

Montenegro also called for Mayes’ office to review whether Tempe violated ARS 16-407 which, “prohibits cities from expending private monies for preparing for, administering or conducting an election,” according to Montenegro’s letter to Mayes.

The development agreement between the city of Tempe and Bluebird called for the developer to cover the cost of the special election.

According to ARS 41-194, one or more members of the state legislature can request an investigation into whether a county or any other local municipality violated state laws or the Arizona Constitution. The request by a legislator compels the Attorney General to complete an investigation within 30 days, according to the state statute.

Acknowledging the deadline to vote in the election is May 16, which is 22 days after he sent his letter to Mayes, Montenegro asked the attorney general to provide a report before election day.

“I just learned of the city’s actions and decided to bring this matter to your attention as quickly as possible. I would greatly appreciate an expedited report, to the extent you are able to do so,” Montenegro wrote.

The May 16 election is primarily being conducted via mail. The registration deadline passed in early April. The city of Tempe is asking all ballots to be placed in the mail no later than May 9.

Voters can also drop their ballots at any secure Maricopa County drop box. From May 8-16, there will be an official voting center at the Tempe History Museum, 809 E. Southern Ave. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 8 to 15 and 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day, May 16.

Weekdays through election day, ballots can be dropped off at Tempe City Hall, 31 E. Fifth St., between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

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Rep. Montenegro drops asks to investigate constitutionality of Tempe’s Coyotes agreement