(Clockwise) Board members Yasamin Ansari, Carlos Garcia, Laura Pastor, and Betty Guardado. Photos: Courtesy of the City of Phoenix
Four city council members have attended Suns games or concerts using the city pavilion that is meant to be for community and economic development purposes, according to records obtained Axios Phoenix.
- to me city policyThe stand will be used to promote the city, host special guests and strengthen relationships with public agencies.
- It may also be used for employee award programs or activities for children or adults with developmental disabilities.
why does it matter: Ethics experts tell us that council members who take advantage of such perks can create a perception that the city is misusing a public resource for private benefit, reducing trust between elected officials and voters.
- “The more the public becomes aware that there is or appears to be some kind of misuse of their public office…the more likely they are to lose their trust and confidence in not only these individuals, but more broadly in Phoenix city government,” John Bellisero, a researcher in government ethics at the Center for Social Security, tells us. Marcula Institute of Applied Ethics.
How it works: The city owns the footprint center, but it is run by the Phoenix Suns.
- As part of the deal, the Suns provide the city with a suite for most events.
- Comes with 12 tickets, but an additional 10 Suns tickets can be purchased at face value – prices vary by event.
- City officials can spend up to $250 on food and drink per event, but sometimes the tab and additional ticket cost is picked up by an in-suite guest, often a corporation or agency doing business in the city.
What we found: Council members Laura Pastor, Carlos Garcia, Betty Guardado, and Yasmin Ansari have attended events at City Pavilion in the past two years, and occasionally brought family members or friends With them.
- Pastor attended four Suns playoff games in 2021, including two Finals appearances and one playoff game in 2022.
- Garcia went to two playoff appearances in both 2021 and 2022, as well as the Banda MS.
- Guardado has been to one playoff game in 2021, two in 2022 and the M.S. Banda Gala.
- Al-Ansari has gone to one final, in 2021.
From the note: A few council staff also used the suite, sometimes without their superiors present.
- Garcia’s Chief of Staff Adriana Garcia Maximiliano and Ansari Policy Director Aaron Kane went to the Bad Bunny party. None of the council members attended.
- Guardado’s chief of staff, Andrew Wonder, went into a final match alone.
what are they saying: Council members and council staff who attended the events did not respond to Axios’ request for comment.
- According to city policy, council members and guest attendance must be approved by Director of Economic Development Chris McKay or Deputy City Manager Ginger Spencer. He doesn’t talk to us about councilors who use the suite.
- Their boss, city manager Jeff Barton, also declined an interview.
in the current situation The city said that council members and staff are allowed to serve as hosts in the pavilion “for uses such as economic development, retention, and/or promotion of the city.”
- Communications director Dan Wilson said the DED will “frequently ask” council members to host corporate or community groups.
- He said that councilors are allowed to bring a guest for free.
the other side: Mayor Kate Gallego and council members Jim Waring, Deb Stark, Sal DiCiccio and Ann O’Brien say they have never attended an event at the ward, nor have they been asked or asked to attend.
- “There has to be a better use [than council members],” Stark told us, suggesting the city give it to a nonprofit or use it for youth or adult events instead.
bottom line: Pat Shields, who serves on the ethics committee of the American Society of Public Administration, said government officials are expected to adhere to a strict code of professional ethics.
- “Your actions must show that you place the public interest above private interest. Your benefit must be second only to the public interest in your official capacity.”