Scottsdale civil rights officials plan to probe whether a city contract with the all-male Charros organization to bring Major League Baseball to Scottsdale Stadium conflicts with anti-discrimination policies.
Those officials — members of the city’s Human Relations Commission — are also looking into recommending a potential new Scottsdale law that would prohibit discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered in the city.
The proposal arose out of the dissatisfaction many felt when Mayor Mary Manross gutted a proclamation the commission had proposed to honor the LGBT community, and to combat the perception that the city is hostile to that community, according to proponents.
The investigation into the city’s relationship with the Scottsdale Charros, a nonprofit organization founded in 1961, comes at the behest of John Greco, a former interim city manager of Tempe.
At the commission’s meeting Monday, Greco questioned whether it’s suitable for the city, which touts its anti-discrimination policies, to have a 20-year contract with the allmale Charros to bring the San Francisco Giants to the cityowned Scottsdale Stadium annually for spring training.
“The Charros as a private organization has every right to discriminate. What they don’t have a right to do is ... act as a city agent,” Greco said.
He acknowledged that the group doesn’t have any bylaws that prohibit women from joining, but alleged the group is a “good ol’ boys network” since all of its members are male.
“Technically, there’s no rule against it, but are (women) in the Charros? No,” he said.
Karen Gillen, a lawyer with the Phoenix firm Ogletree Deakins representing the Charros, said the group does not receive public money, but rather rents Scottsdale Stadium from the city with a portion of the proceeds from spring training and gives the rest to various charities.
“The Charros are acting lawfully,” she said. “They’re in compliance with the laws, and we have no reason to believe the city isn’t acting lawfully, as well.” But Greco said the group uses a stadium built with taxpayer money, and by being men only, women are excluded from enjoying the business contacts men may acquire through the group and the publicity of donating large sums to charity.
“The Charros do wonderful work and have had a tremendous impact on the community. That’s not at issue,” he said. “Because they do such good work, nobody every thought twice about the fact they have no women. The end doesn’t justify the means.”
Don Logan, the city’s diversity and dialogue director, offered to mediate between the Charros and Greco and report back to the commission at a future meeting. Commissioners could then ask the City Council to review whether the contract with the Charros is in keeping with spirit of city’s policy of nondiscrimination, and possibly make a recommendation that the city not contract with groups that discriminate.
Greco said, “Maybe the city needs to review all of its contracts.”
In a separate action, the commission asked city staff to examine laws in other cities that prohibit discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered in the hopes of recommending a similar law to the Scottsdale City Council. Commissioner Richard Woerth, who proposed the law, said it needs to be fleshed out more before he could comment on whether it would just affect city government, or private businesses, as well.
“It’s going to put some teeth into the discussion about discrimination,” Woerth said.
Michele deLaFreniere, the commission’s transgendered chairwoman, said just having a simple proclamation honoring the LGBT community may be a dead issue.
“The mayor has made her position clear,” she said. “It’s now time to move beyond that.”