Mesa Mayor Keno Hawker is no longer silent on the Riverview at Dobson issue. Hawker, who abstained from votes on the project’s zoning, signs and incentives because of a conflict of interest, cheered and booed from his seat in unison with project supporters during Tuesday’s Riverview debate.
Hawker has a "Yes on Riverview" sign in his front yard, and his wife is named by the campaign as an official supporter.
Hawker said Wednesday he will be voting May 17 in favor of the project and its estimated $80 million incentive package. As recently as January’s State of the City address, Hawker said he’s been working with other East Valley mayors "to stem the tide of rising retail incentives," which he called a "difficult problem." He said if he could have participated with this project, he would have sought a revenue-sharing agreement with Tempe.
Hawker said he’s not actively campaigning, but when asked, will tell people he’s supporting Propositions 300, 301 and 302.
If all three propositions are approved, the 250-acre Riverview project at Loop 202 and Dobson Road will move forward with expected tenants Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, a Cinemark movie theater, a Wal-Mart Supercenter, auto dealerships and a business park.
Tim Delaney, president of the Center for Leadership, Ethics and Public Service, which provides training for public and nonprofit officials, said even though Hawker has a conflict when it comes to City Council votes, he enjoys full First Amendment rights.
"He can say he’s for something or against something as long as he’s not doing so in his official capacity," Delaney said.
Hawker declared a conflict of interest because he lives within 300 feet of the Riverview property.
Also on Wednesday, the "No" side called on Bass Pro Shops to open its financial books and disclose company store sales, which the privately held company is not legally obligated to do. Bass Pro Shops is expected to be Riverview’s major recipient of sales tax rebates.
"If it’s such a great deal, back it up with fact, not fiction," said "No" on Riverview campaign spokesman Jason Rose.
A Bass Pro Shops spokesman did not return a call Wednesday.
Kimco Developers president Jerry Friedman, a Riverview developer, called the request for a private company’s information "ludicrous." He said the Ernst and Young market analysis prepared for Mesa projects Bass Pro Shops will bring in $54 million in sales per year. Friedman said Bass Pro Shops didn’t share private information with him, either, but he did speak with other developers and shopping center managers that have Bass Pro Shops as a tenant.