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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

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Lately we’ve seen a rash of alleged campaign violations, from the use of a Hope for Hunger (a nonprofit agency) truck to a volunteer with the Glendale Fire Department going door-to-door handing out campaign literature. Complaints have been filed with the city of Glendale and other appropriate agencies.

In response to one of the alleged complaints Jim Brown, Glendale’s Director of Human Resources and Risk Management, on October 23, 2014 said, ““The City employee policy regarding political activities does not prevent an off-duty union member from participating in political activities on behalf of his/her union.”

Apparently he did not get (or did not read) the Memo from City Attorney Michael Bailey dated November 14, 2013. Mr. Bailey cites Glendale City Code, Section 2-75(b). Political activities and contributions from employees that says, “No employee, other than an elected official, shall engage in any political activity in a Glendale municipal election, except to sign a petition for nomination, to cast a vote, or express a private personal opinion.”

Some of the prohibited activities cited by Bailey are, distribution of campaign material or literature for a candidate or an issue involved in a city election and the posting or placing of campaign signs for a candidate or issue in a city election.  He says, “The ordinance (city) also reiterates the state statutory restriction on a city employee influencing other employees or seeking contributions of time or money for a political campaign.” He refers to the United States Supreme Court’s recognition that limitations on political activity serve the public interest of prevention of “a government work force from being employed to build a political machine.”

Nowhere in any of these specific prohibitions is there an exception carved out or an exemption for a local union’s participation in their municipality’s elections. Where is Mr. Brown’s authority to carve out an exemption for a local union member? Upon what legal authority did he base his opinion? We all would be interested in reading the legal opinion that he relies upon.

The Supreme Court, State of Arizona and City of Glendale prohibition from municipal employees participating in their municipal elections is the very reason Valley fire unions have developed a “work around” that has been used for years and years. That is why typically union employees from other cities will contribute money and volunteer to work an election in any city but their own. When the time comes, they, as pay back, will contribute to and work an election in a city from which they received previous help.

There is another and far more serious issue that is finally beginning to surface and that is the Glendale fire union’s political machine. For far too long members of Glendale’s senior management have been aware of the fire union’s political machine. For far too long they have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the Glendale fire union’s political activities and its inclination to skirt the edge of campaign law. Even Glendale’s Fire Chief Burdick does not have the muscle (or will) to control the demands and dictates of Glendale’s fire union.

Do not expect anything to change. After all, City Manager Brenda Fischer’s husband was (any may still be) a fire fighter in Henderson, Nevada. Other city employees have relatives who are Glendale fire fighters. It is any wonder that they would be sympathetic to the fire union and its objectives? If it takes political influence to achieve those objectives those who have the power to rein in fire’s political machine appear to have no will or desire to do so.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

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This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

 

 

On Tuesday, October 21, 2014 the Glendale city council held a workshop meeting. There were two agenda items: a review of the 4th quarter budget results (more about that later in another blog); and discussion of rescinding a March 2014 city council rejection of Becker billboards at Bell Road and the Loop 101.

You have to be a died-in-the-wool political junkie to appreciate the nuances of council discussion of the second item regarding Becker Billboards. When the issue was first rejected by city council it was on a vote of 5 to 2 with Sherwood and Alvarez being the only affirmative votes.  Keep in mind that Sherwood received over $1700 in political campaign donations from the Becker family and Alvarez received $2500 from Becker. Does that kind of money in a local, seemingly podunk, Glendale election buy not only access to these councilmembers but their advocacy?

When the request for rescinding of the original Becker billboard decision was made on Tuesday, October 7, 2014 Sherwood claimed to be making the request on behalf of Councilmember Chavira. Yet it was Sherwood who penned the letter on October 8, 2014 to the City Manager asking for council discussion and consideration. Apparently Sammy was doing his pal a favor by making the original request even though he was absent for the meeting and Sherwood read Sammy’s request. Everyone recognized that Sammy was trying to give Sherwood some cover. Didn’t work. Many acknowledge that it was Sherwood who rammed through the selection of Fischer as City Manager and that she owes him. No wonder it was on a workshop agenda two weeks later. Typically, staff does not move that fast and normally this would be a workshop agenda item a month or two after the request had been made.

Discussion of rescinding the original Becker billboard decision was extensive. Some councilmember comments stood out. Councilmember Martinez said, “some things will not go away” and the issue has “taken on a life of its own.” Councilmember Chavira tried to use the same rationale that Sherwood had used in the past when trying to explain his flip flop on his casino position.  Chavira claimed to not be fully informed when he originally voted to defeat the billboards and went on to say, “he likes to think he’s well informed about every decision he makes.” What a hoot – it seems pretty evident that Chavira takes his marching orders from Sherwood. Councilmember Alvarez chanted her usual mantra that north Glendale has all of the power in the city and gets all while south Glendale gets nothing. Same song, same verse. She was as much as saying that she was all too happy to stick it to north Glendale residents.

The argument that eventually prevailed was that of precedent. If council were to move forward and rescind their original denial of Becker billboards it would be the opening of Pandora’s box. It would put every council vote up to the possibility of rescission. It could even put past council votes on the arena management deal and the casino issue up for future reversal. It is that very thought that defeated Sherwood’s attempt to reverse council’s prior decision on billboards with Mayor Weiers, Vice Mayor Knaack and Councilmembers Martinez and Hugh indicating through consensus that they did not want to move forward and vote on a rescission. Sherwood failed but he was not finished.

City Attorney Bailey had opened another door during his disjointed remarks explaining procedure for such a rescission vote. He said that 3 councilmembers had the right to call for a special council meeting. Sherwood asked several specific questions about that procedure. Make no mistake – expect Sherwood, Chavira and Alvarez to request such a special meeting.

Why the desperation to get a revote on this issue? Sherwood faces two adverse actions that could impact his seat as a councilmember. One is the ongoing Attorney General’s investigation into allegations of open meeting law violations and the other is the current effort to recall him. Add to that Alvarez is standing for reelection on November 4, 2014 and she may, or may not, survive. With the outcomes of these two events in question it seems imperative that they make another run at the billboard issue before November 4th. It doesn’t leave them much time which makes their request for a special council meeting very attractive. The saga continues and will not conclude as long as Sherwood refuses to take a majority council ‘no’ as an answer.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

A frighteningly good time

Posted by Joyce Clark on October 21, 2014
Posted in City of Glendale  | Tagged With: , , , | 3 Comments

Image4I have known Bill and Gracie Tolmachoff for nearly 20 years. They are friends of mine.  They also happen to own and operate Tolmachoff Farms located on the west side of 75th Avenue, just south of Bethany Home Road (5726 N. 75th Avenue, Glendale, AZ 85303). Here’s the link:  www.tolmachoff-farms.com.

They embody the true spirit of entrepreneurship. They took a working farm barely making ends meet and while keeping it as a working farm added amenities that make it a major tourist attraction…not to mention theImage2 countless school field trips they host on a regular basis. This month, with Halloween soon upon us, they are also open on Friday and Saturday nights from 7 PM to 11 PM hosting their Field of Screams (www.azfieldofscreams.com ).

It’s a wonderful place for a family activity day. The kids can see and interact with farm animals, participate in farm related activities and go onImage3 farm related rides. You can go to their site for further information on times open, ticket pricing, events and discount coupons.

It’s also the very best place to get fresh produce in season. My family can attest to the corn, squash, canned jams/relishes and tomatoes consumed with gusto. There’s also fresh squash and about anything else you can eat that’s in season.

Tolmachoff Farms is a rare gem in the midst of an urban area. It’s well worth the trip for the whole family, especially the little ones. Halloween’s almost here. Why not plan to take the family to pick out that special pumpkin for carving the scariest face imaginable.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

I received the email below from a blog reader today. It is an email sent by a Glendale resident to the City Clerk, her assistant; Vice Mayor Knaack and Mayor Weiers. I have withheld the complainant’s name and address.

From: LSFlatau@q.com” <lsflatau@q.com> 

To: “Darcie McCracken”“<DMcCracken@GLENDALEAZ.com>, “Pam Hanna” <PHanna@GLENDALEAZ.com> Cc: “Yvonne Knaack” <YKnaack@GLENDALEAZ.com>, “Cindy Nossek” <CNossek@GLENDALEAZ.com>, mayorweiers@glendaleaz.com                    Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 9:57:24 AM                                                                                                                                     Subject: Glendale Fire Department Electioneering??

Good Morning Ms. Hanna/Ms. McCracken,  Last night, at approximately 5:30PM, I was approached by a young man in my driveway at 6107 W. Desert Cove Avenue.  He very specifically indicated that he was with the Glendale Fire Department, and was handing out election material for Bart Turner, who as you know is running for City Council in the Barrel District.  Upon further questioning he noted that he was a volunteer fireman and didn’t live in this district, and consequently his actions were permissible.   I realize that without the name of the individual that you cannot pursue him personally, but by mentioning the Glendale Fire Department specifically he has crossed an ethical and possibly legal ground.  I am quite certain that it is inappropriate to specifically identify the Glendale Fire Department as the agency campaigning for an individual running for City Council.  Attempting to influence an election by utilizing the power and prestige of the Fire Department just can’t be allowed.  I respectfully request that you immediately notify the City Manager and Fire Chief of this individual’s actions so that all City employees can be advised as to what is or isn’t appropriate during this election season.  Your prompt attention and reply to this matter is greatly appreciated.     

Respectfully, Larry S. Flatau  6107 W. Desert Cove Ave.

Glendale, AZ  

Will anything happen as a result of this citizen’s complaint to the city? Probably not…it’s the city, you know. More properly this complaint should be directed to the State and County Attorney General’s Offices and to the AZ Secretary of State and the Maricopa County Elections Department. If any reader witnesses what is believed to be a campaign violation those above are where any complaint should rightfully go…with a Cc to the City Manager of Glendale.

It is clear that a volunteer with the Glendale Fire Department was going door-to-door on October 20, 2014 handing out campaign literature for Barrel district candidate Bart Turner. He represented himself as being with the Glendale Fire Department. There may be a grey area in this scenario. He said he was a volunteer and not a paid employee. Does that make a difference? Maybe…maybe not.

This action leads to more questions. Was or is he the only fire department “volunteer” going door-to-door distributing campaign material for Turner? If there are others, are they all “volunteers” or are some paid fire employees “volunteering” their time? Did the individual in question have permission from someone within the fire department to use the department’s name?

What is even more interesting is the Glendale Fire Union’s full court press in support of candidate Turner. For many years John Holland was President of the Glendale Fire Union. It was common knowledge that he often personally managed the campaigns of candidates supported by the Fire Union. It is but one example of the extreme influence the Glendale fire union has historically had in Glendale elections. He once told me the union did regular polling of Glendale candidates. No doubt the union still performs that activity. As a result of recent fire union polling they may have discovered that their candidate Bart Turner is in trouble. If that were to be true, that would explain their redoubled, last minute effort on Turner’s behalf. The recent incidents of the use of the nonprofit Hope for Hunger truck to carry and place campaign signs for Turner; Glendale Historical Society (another nonprofit organization) members handing out Turner literature at Sahuaro Ranch (a city owned park); and now a self-identified Glendale Fire Department volunteer going door-to-door for Turner signal that fire is worried that their candidate may not win the Barrel seat.

All of these allegations place a cloud over Turner’s candidacy and should give every Barrel district voter pause. Barrel voters should be asking, why is fire working so hard to get Turner elected? Does their polling show Randy Miller in the lead? Fire’s actions should cause every Barrel district voter to choose Randy Miller as the new Barrel councilmember. Miller has the intellect, the willingness to research issue and the independence to make decisions that are in the best interests not only of Barrel district residents but all of Glendale.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.