April 18, 2005
The Riverview at Dobson debate returns to Maricopa County Superior Court today for a hearing that may determine how much information the project’s opposition will be forced to reveal.
But even if the court grants developers’ wishes to take depositions of former Mesa legislator Jeff Groscost and three members of Valley Business Owners (and Concerned Citizens) — the group that forced the Riverview issue to a vote through a successful referendum effort — it’s unknown whether the depositions would take place before the May 17 election.
Groscost has filed a motion to quash his subpoena.
On the other side, Valley Business Owners attorney Tom Irvine has called Riverview supporter Mesa City Councilman Mike Whalen to be deposed.
This hearing is the latest legal step in the Nov. 24 defamation lawsuit filed by Riverview developers Kimco Developers and De Rito Partners Development against Valley Business Owners members David Molina and Jan Hibbard. The complaint accuses Molina and Hibbard of using racist tactics and implying the developers violated openmeeting laws when handing out fliers encouraging people to sign the referendum petitions.
On March 21, attorneys representing the Riverview developers delayed the depositions because Valley Business Owners has refused to release subpoenaed documents about the organization.
A court document filed by Valley Business Owners on March 11 — the same day Molina started his deposition — reveals that Groscost had given a reported $32,000 to the group since July, including a $19,000 payment in November that nearly equaled the amount spent to gather signatures.
The document also reveals that Mesa lawyer David Udall — as a representative of the Riverview developers — offered Valley Business Owners members money to end their opposition to the project.
A Feb. 28 court decision in this lawsuit allowed the depositions to move forward, but now the debate is about the extent to which developers’ attorneys may question the defendants.
Today is the deadline for Mesa voters to register to vote in the election.