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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

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Yesterday’s blog entitled “Please delete this email after you read it” regarding Councilmember Gary Sherwood’s email resulting in an allegation of violation of the state’s Open Meeting Law created quite a bit of controversy rippling through the Coyotes world, Glendale’s political world and even the journalistic world.

I suppose the reaction from the Coyotes world is the most predictable.  As anyone would expect, the Coyotes fans are fiercely loyal and anything that raises the specter of the disappearance of their team from Glendale sends them into overdrive. Their first reaction is to kill the messenger. In this case that includes not only me but Mayor Weiers, the Glendale Star and the Arizona Republic.  They denigrated Mayor Weiers for outing actions that may prove to be illegal. They gnashed their teeth over my blog and the newspapers’ articles because they perceived the information as yet another hit on their beloved team.

What they fail to recognize is that while the 4 councilmembers’ actions preceded a vote on the Coyotes deal, those actions could have preceded any council vote on any issue.  The troubling issue for many people is not the outcome of the vote but rather the actions that preceded and led up to the vote. The allegation is not about the Coyotes. The allegation is about improper behavior by 4 councilmembers. An investigation by the AG’s Office will surely answer the question, did they collude behind closed doors prior to the vote? Did they conduct city business secretly to assure a positive vote? Why speak to the issue of a possible Open Meeting Law violation when instead fans can deride the messengers? Why is it alright to dismiss possible illegal behavior because it is associated with a vote on the Coyotes deal? It’s a case of situational ethics.

The reaction from the Glendale political world is also predictable. It was learned that when the email first came to light, Vice Mayor Knaack denied attending the meeting. However, that would never do and would not last long. It would have had Sherwood and Knaack as adversaries; something they can ill afford right now. Today, the explanation given is that Sherwood and Knaack were in the same car when they received a cell phone call from Woods. Two things are questionable about this scenario. Where was Sammy? After all, Sherwood in his email says, “Sammy is already on board as he was with us last night.” Even if you can swallow this car explanation, it doesn’t make the allegation go away. The Open Meeting Law says, “Splintering the quorum can be done by meeting in person, by telephone, electronically, or through other means to discuss a topic that is or may be presented to the public body for a decision.” Note that they are not denying the basis of the allegation. Are they trying to muddy the waters by responding to minutia such as where they were when the meeting of the 3 and Woods took place? It’s another case of situational ethics.

The reaction from the print world can only be described as fascinating. Yesterday afternoon, July 21, I received a phone call from Paul Giblin, an Arizona Republic reporter. He proceeded to express his offense that I dared to say that I had scooped reporter Peter Corbett and the Arizona Republic.  He opined that my writing was done on the back of Peter Corbett who had made the FOIA request. He said that my journalistic standards were not as high as that of the Arizona Republic’s, and ended by saying; enjoy writing your little blog.

Later that day, I learned that Darrell Jackson of the Glendale Star had made the same kind of FOIA request. Who made the first request? Did Darrell Jackson do his story on the back of Peter Corbett or did Peter Corbett do his story on the back of Darrell Jackson? Isn’t it weirdly coincidental that 2 reporters made the same FOIA request? Even more interesting is who tipped them off to the Sherwood email and why? What was the source’s motive for doing so? Situational ethics once again.

As for journalistic standards…hah…that’s like the pot calling the kettle black. Arizona Republic readers have complained about the perceived bias in this paper’s stories for years; to the point that it has become legendary.  All of us, Jackson, Corbett and I, received Sherwood’s email as a result of the FOIA. I just happened to be the first to get it out to the public. Oh well…Giblin’s outrage is much ado about nothing. More situational ethics.

© 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.

Sherwood signatureVery recently I received this email over the Glendale city hall transom. It was produced as a result of a Freedom of Information Request. It is an email sent by Councilmember Gary Sherwood to Councilmember Manny Martinez and Jeff Teetsel (IStar manager of Westgate). It was sent on June 29, 2013 approximately one week before a majority of the Glendale City Council voted to accept the $15 million a year management agreement with IceArizona.

The main figures in the Glendale cast of characters at that time were: Mayor Jerry Weiers, Vice Mayor Yvonne Knaack, Councilmembers Martinez, Hugh, Alvarez, Chavira and Sherwood. The Acting City Manager was Dick Bowers and the Acting City Attorney was Nick DiPiazza. Nick Woods represented IceArizona in contract negotiations for management of the city’s arena.

SherwoodtoMartinezJune292013_Page_1 Blog

Sherwood email to Martinez

 

 

 

 

The actual email is pictured to the left but the text reads as follows:                                                                                       To: Martinez, Manny; Jeff Teetsel                                                     From: Sherwood, Gary                                                                                                                                                    RE: Out Clause and Risk Topics

“Yvonne and I spend over an hour with Nick Woods last night and out of the three concerns from what I shared with Nick after our e-session yesterday (as of 7:45p, Nick has not seen the city’s revised draft which was promised right after we got of e-session nor had it been posted to our website – consequently both happened by 8:45p) two were okay with the city and had to deal with the errors the city made — #1, we don’t own the 5500 parking spots we’re proposing to charge for therefore it must be a license agreement and not a license agreement  (sic) #2) since the bonds that are held against the arena are tax exempt – only a governmental agency can hold those bonds so some different language has to be brought in – city agreed with that. The third item is problematic in that it is against the NHL for cities to hold out-clause and none of the other 29 cities have one. That would allow the city to just kick the team out, where would they play, what if in the middle of the season.

“I don’t have the time to get into all the details but I’ve known Nick Woods for a long time and know him to be a trusted friend and right now I can’t turn my back away from anyone in the city manager’s office or out (sic) acting city attorney.

“Manny, I’ve got a booked day with two Habitat for Humanity events, three radio interviews and two TV spots so contact Yvonne for details of our conversation. Sammy is already on board as he was with us last night.

“Thanks for hanging in there!

“Manny – please delete this email after you’ve read it.”

Thanks,

Gary D. Sherwood

There are several issues of grave concern with this email. The most serious is a possible violation of the State’s Open Meeting Law.  The following is taken from the AG’s office explanation of one section of the Open Meeting Law:

 “7.5.2 Circumvention of the Open Meeting Law.Discussions and deliberations between less than a majority of the members of a governing body, or other devices, when used to circumvent the purposes of the Open Meeting Law violate that law. See Ariz. Att’y Gen. Op. 75-8; Town of Palm Beach v. Gradison, 296 So. 2d 473 (Fla. 1974). Public officials may not circumvent public discussion by splintering the quorum and having separate or serial discussions with a majority of the public body members. Splintering the quorum can be done by meeting in person, by telephone, electronically, or through other means to discuss a topic that is or may be presented to the public body for a decision. Public officials should refrain from any activities that may undermine public confidence in the public decision making process established in the Open Meeting Law, including actions that may appear to remove discussions and decisions from public view.”

What the explanation above means is that there are to be no private discussions by a majority (4 councilmembers or more) of the governing body if the topic of the discussion is about a matter to be voted upon by the city council. The IceArizona contract was voted upon one month later. The law also prohibits an elected official (councilmember) from acting as a “go-between,” relaying a position on an issue to be voted upon from one councilmember to another.  Sherwood’s email shows him relaying information to Martinez he had discussed the previous night with Nick Woods, Knaack and Chavira. That action is known as “daisy-chaining.”

Sherwood, Knaack, Martinez and Chavira were the 4 affirmative votes for the IceArizona contract. All four could be considered equally culpable of a possible violation of the Open Meeting law by discussing/negotiating elements of the Coyotes contract amongst themselves, privately, when it was soon to come before them for a public vote… all the while excluding the remaining 3 councilmember: Weiers, Hugh and Alvarez.  

Another alarming admission by Sherwood in this email is that he shared Executive session material with Nick Woods. The city was negotiating with IceArizona. The ad hoc discussion between Sherwood, Knaack and Chavira and Woods may have harmed or weakened the city’s position. City contract negotiations are a direct managerial responsibility of the City Manager and City Attorney. Could this action be a violation of the city’s charter? We’ll explore this topic in the next blog.

Every councilmember knows of the prohibition about not sharing E session material. Doing so is a very serious violation of the Open Meeting Law. Sherwood says quite clearly in his email that is exactly what he did with Nick Woods and then attempts to minimize the violation by characterizing Woods as a friend. It makes no difference. E session material is not to be shared with anyone…even friends or family.

It seems that Sherwood was putting pressure on Acting City Manager Dick Bowers and Acting City Attorney Nick DiPiazza to get the IceArizona deal done…quickly. We know that Mr. Bowers publicly addressed the $15 million a year IceArizona (at that time IceArizona was called Renaissance) contract and voiced concerns about Glendale’s fiscal health if it were approved at that figure. In a June 23, 2013 Dick Bowers memo to city council he said, “Contrary to what might appear in the papers I don’t see this as a ‘done deal’. Far from it.” He went on to say, “I cannot shake the concern for the level of risk expected to be borne by the city…I keep coming back to that same level of discomfort of Glendale having all of the risk in this deal.” Clearly Bowers had substantial concerns and it is not unreasonable to think that Sherwood was advising Bowers that he had the four votes needed to approve the deal.

From this email we can see who was talking to who privately about this issue. Sherwood seems to have taken the lead and all 4 councilmembers may have been negotiating collectively yet privately with IceArizona’s attorney. He acknowledges Knaack and Chavira as participants in his meeting with Nick Woods. He then sent his summary email to Martinez.

names                                                

Why did Sherwood ask Martinez to delete his email after reading? It appears to be tantamount to an admission that its contents should not have been memorialized.  There are so many questions and so few answers. Is it possible that Sherwood asked Martinez to delete his email because he realized he was “daisy-chaining?” Did Martinez delete this email as requested? Maybe…maybe  not, leading to its discovery now, over a year later.

Sherwood’s email and his comments within it warrant an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office to determine the validity of Open Meeting law violation allegations sure to arise as his email becomes more and more public. At this point, Sherwood’s email raises a lot of questions. I suspect that it may generate many citizen complaints to the AG’s Office. From my years of experience on council, it looks like a “smoking gun,” written by Sherwood himself that implicates him and 3 other councilmembers in possible Open Meeting Law violations.

So, for all those citizens who spoke in favor of or against the Coyotes deal the night council voted on the matter, it was in vain. It appears that 4 councilmembers, Sherwood, Knaack , Martinez and Chavira, had already made their minds up and shared their positions with one another at the end of June, 2013.

Update 1:00 PM. I am pleased to report that I have scooped the Arizona Republic. At 11:16 AM I published my blog on the Sherwood email. At 12:30 PM Peter Corbett, a reporter for the Arizona Republic released his story on the same Sherwood email. Here is the link:

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2014/07/21/glendale-mayor-council-members-violated-open-meeting-law/12956523/ . I knew Corbett had made the FOIA request for said email but I was perplexed because there was no Arizona Republic story. I was beginning to think someone had quashed it.

Mayor Jerry Weiers is considering filing a complaint with the AG’s office. If after reading this blog and Corbett’s article, you think Mayor Weiers should file a complaint, please send him an email at: jweiers@glendaleaz.com and let him know you support such an action.

© 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.

 

Please note: Some of the information presented here is repetition of information from my previous blog on Cholla and Barrel district council candidates and applies to all candidates. Some of you reading this blog for the first time may not have read the previous ones.

If you have relatives, friends or acquaintances that live in the Ocotillo district, please consider passing this series of blogs on to them as another tool to help them evaluate the Ocotillo candidates prior to casting their vote.

Early ballots are mailed at the end of July, 2014. Candidates (well, most of them) have their websites up, are raising campaign money (or not) and beginning to stake out their positions on Glendale issues.

We move on to the Ocotillo district council candidates in alphabetical order: Jamie Aldama, Norma Alvarez, Michael Hernandez and Bud Zomok.

All of the information to be discussed will be based on the candidates’ websites and their June 30, 2014 Campaign Finance Reports. Some of the candidates I had met or worked with previously and am familiar with their positions on various issues. Others I have never met and so I arranged an interview with them. The same questions were asked of all candidates that were interviewed.

We’ll take a look at each candidate’s Campaign Finance Report of June 30, 2014. Here is the link to Glendale City Clerk’s posting of each candidate finance report: http://www.glendaleaz.com/Clerk/2014PoliticalCommitteeCampaignFinanceReports.cfm . Go to that page and you can choose which candidate’s campaign finance report you wish to read.

Each report totals 19 pages. The first 2 pages are summary pages. Section A will show all contributions from individuals. Section B shows all political committee contributions. Section C shows loans either the candidate made to the campaign or any other loan received. Section D deals with all expenditures. Section E is for In-Kind contributions and Section F shows miscellaneous items.

This could be considered nit-picky but the finance report is 19 pages. Each candidate’s report should consist of a minimum of 19 pages (there may be multiple pages especially in Sections A and D). Some candidates did not submit the minimal 19 pages. It could be assumed that if they had no financial activity to report in certain areas they just did not bother to include those pages. Technically, that is not a complete report. All pages should be submitted and if there was no activity to report in certain categories, the candidate can leave the page blank, draw a line through the page or indicate “NA,” no activity. Even if a candidate has a treasurer who fills out the report the candidate is still ultimately responsible for the accuracy and veracity of his or her filing.

There is another kind of Campaign Finance Report a candidate can submit and that is a No Activity Statement. That means the candidate didn’t receive any contributions and did not spend any money. Some of the council candidates filed this kind of report.

The items to look for are: what individuals are contributing; are they Glendale residents, relatives, attorneys or other professionals; or Political Action Committees (PACs)? Did the candidate loan his or her campaign any money? How much? Are the expenditures typical of a campaign; signs, printing, bank charges, food for fund raising events or volunteers; web site design or hosting? Is the candidate using a paid political consultant? At what cost?

At this stage of the game candidates are often reluctant to reveal too much about their finances. They may ask that large contributions be made after June 1, 2014 to be reported in the Pre-Primary Report or after August 15, 2014 for the Post-Primary Report.

Michael Hernandez

Campaign Finance Report –He submitted a No Activity campaign finance report. He raised no money and spent no money.

Campaign contribution limits have become very generous as a result of recent court rulings. In the last election of 2012, the individual contribution limit was $400. Now it is $2,500. A political committee’s limit is now $2,500 and a Super PAC’s limit is $5,000. The trick for local candidates is to get large contributions. It’s not an easy task.

Campaign website – He has no website.

I scheduled an interview with him and on the day of the interview he stated he could not participate due to work commitments.

With no funds, no information about him or his positions on the issues Mr. Hernandez cannot be considered as a viable candidate.

After review of all 4 Ocotillo district candidates we’ll try to narrow the choices down to 2 people. In this district, as with the other council races, there are so many candidates none of them are expected to win outright in the primary and we can expect a run off in the general election in November.  Next up, Bud Zomok.

© 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.

Please note: Some of the information presented here is repetition of information from my previous blog on Cholla and Barrel district council candidates and applies to all candidates. Some of you reading this blog for the first time may not have read the previous ones.

If you have relatives, friends or acquaintances that live in the Ocotillo district, please consider passing this series of blogs on to them as another tool to help them evaluate the Ocotillo candidates prior to casting their vote.

Early ballots are mailed at the end of July, 2014. Candidates (well, most of them) have their websites up, are raising campaign money (or not) and beginning to stake out their positions on Glendale issues.

We move on to the Ocotillo district council candidates in alphabetical order: Jamie Aldama, Norma Alvarez, Michael Hernandez and Bud Zomok.

All of the information to be discussed will be based on the candidates’ websites and their June 30, 2014 Campaign Finance Reports. Some of the candidates I had met or worked with previously and am familiar with their positions on various issues. Others I have never met and so I arranged an interview with them. The same questions were asked of all candidates that were interviewed.

We’ll take a look at each candidate’s Campaign Finance Report of June 30, 2014. Here is the link to Glendale City Clerk’s posting of each candidate finance report: http://www.glendaleaz.com/Clerk/2014PoliticalCommitteeCampaignFinanceReports.cfm . Go to that page and you can choose which candidate’s campaign finance report you wish to read.

Each report totals 19 pages. The first 2 pages are summary pages. Section A will show all contributions from individuals. Section B shows all political committee contributions. Section C shows loans either the candidate made to the campaign or any other loan received. Section D deals with all expenditures. Section E is for In-Kind contributions and Section F shows miscellaneous items.

This could be considered nit-picky but the finance report is 19 pages. Each candidate’s report should consist of a minimum of 19 pages (there may be multiple pages especially in Sections A and D). Some candidates did not submit the minimal 19 pages. It could be assumed that if they had no financial activity to report in certain areas they just did not bother to include those pages. Technically, that is not a complete report. All pages should be submitted and if there was no activity to report in certain categories, the candidate can leave the page blank, draw a line through the page or indicate “NA,” no activity. Even if a candidate has a treasurer who fills out the report the candidate is still ultimately responsible for the accuracy and veracity of his or her filing.

There is another kind of Campaign Finance Report a candidate can submit and that is a No Activity Statement. That means the candidate didn’t receive any contributions and did not spend any money. Some of the council candidates filed this kind of report.

The items to look for are: what individuals are contributing; are they Glendale residents, relatives, attorneys or other professionals; or Political Action Committees (PACs)? Did the candidate loan his or her campaign any money? How much? Are the expenditures typical of a campaign; signs, printing, bank charges, food for fund raising events or volunteers; web site design or hosting? Is the candidate using a paid political consultant? At what cost?

At this stage of the game candidates are often reluctant to reveal too much about their finances. They may ask that large contributions be made after June 1, 2014 to be reported in the Pre-Primary Report or after August 15, 2014 for the Post-Primary Report.

Bud Zomok

Campaign Finance Report – He submitted all 19 pages. He has no treasurer. He is self funded in the amount of $5,000 to date. He had 3 individual contributions totaling $450 to date; 1 individual Glendale contribution from Ken Clark for $250. Contributions under $50 total $320 to date. He reports only 2 expenditures to date; $87 for website hosting and $160 for finance training. Please remember, Mr. Zomok ultimately bears the responsibility for the accuracy and veracity of his report.

Campaign contribution limits have become very generous as a result of recent court rulings. In the last election of 2012, the individual contribution limit was $400. Now it is $2,500. A political committee’s limit is now $2,500 and a Super PAC’s limit is $5,000. The trick for local candidates is to get large contributions. It’s not an easy task.

Campaign website – his website is: http://budforglendale.com  .

However there is no contact information provided – no phone; no address; no email address. The visitor can fill in a form on the Contact page.

His website provides you an Issues page with clear and unambiguous positions on Glendale issues. He opposes removing the sales tax sunset. He opposes placing more debt on Glendale and believes that there are opportunities to sell some of Glendale assets. He believes that Camelback Ranch is a major contributor to Glendale’s debt and would support the renegotiation of that contract as well as others. He opposes negotiation with the Tohono O’odham and believes that their effort to establish a casino in Glendale will destroy the 2002 voter approved state compact. He states that the “new” senior management is drifting in the same direction as that of the “old” senior management. I did meet with Mr. Zomok. I asked him the same series of questions that had been used in previous interviews with candidates.

Mr. Zomok does not share any biographical information on his website. He has participated in Glendale community affairs, most notably in historic preservation. He has his home in Catlin Court and spent a great deal to restore the structure.  He also has a business in downtown Glendale and says it provides the flexibility needed to fulfill the responsibilities and commitments of a councilmember. He understands that the city council has no authority over school districts.

After review of all 4 Ocotillo district candidates we’ll try to narrow the choices down to 2 people. In this district, as with the other council races, there are so many candidates none of them are expected to win outright in the primary and we can expect a run off in the general election in November.  Next up, Ocotillo district council picks.

© 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.

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