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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

ranch 1Once upon a time when Camelback Ranch was being developed, part of the master plan for the adjacent area was to create a new home for USA Basketball. Much of the land was owned by Ralph Burton. He had already proven himself as the city’s partner in bringing Cabela’s to Zanjero (a project he owned and planned), across Glendale Avenue from Westgate. Eventually he brought in two partners, Bob Banovac and Danny Herndon. In a spectacularly quiet but bloody legal battle Banovac and Herndon wrested control of Burton’s interests.  All of the plans for the 2008 development surrounding Camelback Ranch died when Banovich and Herndon, despite an award from Tucson’s Industrial Development Authority (IDA), could not raise the money needed to develop. We were in the midst of our national recession and they, like many others, went into bankruptcy. Since then the banks have sold the land piecemeal to other interests. The hopes of developing the adjacent area as a cohesive unit were gone.

logo usa basketballOne of the proposed projects for that area was a plan to relocated USA Basketball’s training center from Colorado to Glendale. USA Basketball is the entity that chooses our nation’s Olympic basketball teams and provides a year round training center for those teams. In addition, it hosts a myriad of other events, open to the public, such as basketball clinics. There were also plans for another hotel to service those coming to the center and there was even talk of a sports medicine facility. It would have been a most welcome addition to the city’s plans for sports and entertainment surrounding the Loop 101.

On June 10, 2013 the Arizona Republic reported in an article written by Jeff Metcalfe and Anne Ryman entitled Sources: USA Basketball plans to relocate to Tempe. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/sports/articles/20130610usa-basketball-plans-to-relocate-to-tempe.html. On July 31, 2013 the Arizona Republic confirmed USA Basketball’s move in an article entitled Tempe lands HQ for USA Basketball by Anne Ryman and Jeff Metcalfe. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/community/tempe/articles/20130730tempe-lands-hq-usa-basketball.html?nclick_check=1 . Although they have finally found a new home for themselves I was saddened to learn that they will not be coming to Glendale. It is a major loss for Glendale and the West Valley.

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Coalition 1 photo

Glendale City Council
(Alvarez absent)

Lately there has been a rash of media stories about the Attorney General’s office receiving complaints about the now infamous meeting between NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy NHL Commissioner Bill Daly, Renaissance Sports and Entertainment (RSE) principals and Glendale City Councilmembers on May 28, 2013. Immediately following that event I posted about the now famous concept of a “walk around.” The media picked up on it followed by official complaints. Of course we see the fine hand of Councilmember Alvarez aided and abetted by Reverend Maupin in this blame game.

The “walk around” has been a procedure whereby an applicant/ developer of a land parcel met with one, two or three councilmembers at a time. The planned project was explained and the councilmember(s) offered commentary. Usually the applicant was not in the final stages of a project and wanted feedback prior to developing a final proposal.  It was also used by staff to brief councilmembers on a variety of items. In either case the staff person or applicant was seeking further refinements or clarification from councilmembers on a project or item before proceeding.

The first question to ask about the May 28 2013 meeting was why didn’t the city call for an executive session? Did it not have enough time (24 hours) to post such a meeting? Who knows? In hindsight an executive session would have been far more preferable as this contract and its deal points was Hot Topic #1 in Glendale and across the Valley. All of the councilmembers would have heard exactly the same information about the RSE deal at the same time. All would have had an opportunity to comment.

As for this particular “walk around” being no more than a “meet and greet” opportunity it would have been essentially unproductive and a waste of time. Mayor Weiers, at one point, told the media that only the broad outlines of the deal were offered—in other words, generalities, not specifics. Even if that were the case, it stretches incredulity to believe that there was no reaction to the generalities from councilmembers. Now Interim City Attorney DiPiazza is tasked with defending poor judgment. Do you think anyone is going to admit to having deal point discussions? Not on your life if it can lead to fines or even removal from office.

Neither side will be unscathed in this latest debacle. There have also been complaints lodged with the AG’s office against Councilmembers Alvarez and Hugh for violating executive session by discussing the Beacon bids publicly at the July 2nd council meeting. What I find fascinating is that Ken Jones, an avid Alvarez cabal member, leaves council chambers BEFORE either Alvarez or Hugh speaks about the Beacon bids and reveals information about several of the bids to the media. How could he have possibly have had that information unless someone who attended the executive session where it was discussed gave it to him?

The old crystal ball says the complaint against the entire council (sans Alvarez who refused to be in the same room with hockey people) will go nowhere. Unless someone is willing to ‘fess up there will be no substantiating proof for the complaint. On the other hand, council meetings are taped and one can go to the city website and view the July 2, 2013 meeting in question and see Ken Jones leave prior to Alvarez’ and Hugh’s comments about the Beacon bids. There, on video, for all to see is the proof required. How it is interpreted by the AG’s office will surely determine their fate.

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Isbell Construction
Airport

Glendale has had more than one airport in its recent past. According to Ron Chavez’ book “The Valley Airports of the Past,” this airfield “began as the Isbell Construction Company Airfield, a privately-owned airstrip built in 1955 at 80th & Olive Avenues. The airport was used as an aerial crop seeding & spraying operation, had a dirt strip that measured 2,400′, and ran in a north/south direction (17/35) between Grand & Olive Avenues.”He goes on to say “After the closure of Paradise & Phoenix Airhaven Airports, the Isbell Construction Company Airfield became available for general public use and general aviation aircraft began using the airport in 1966.” At the same time its name was changed to Glendale Airhaven Airport.  But it was too small and buried within a corner of a block near Grand Avenue and Olive. Old abandoned urban area airfields often suffered the same fate and were plowed up, torn down and covered with homes and buildings but remnants of this airfield field remain. As of the late 1980’s one could still see the runway and hanger.

In the early 1980’s the city decided to build a new airport and close Glendale Airhaven. A citizen’s group was formed to decide on a location for a new airport to be known as the Glendale Municipal Airport. One of the members of this citizens’ group was – any guesses? – Why, former Mayor Elaine Scruggs. There were two final options for its location. One site was in undeveloped north Glendale and the other was its present location.  Urban legend has it that Scruggs pushed hard for its current location and prevailed despite the location’s many flaws.

photo 3By 1987 the 477 acre Glendale Municipal Airport opened and was ready for business. Its new single runway eventually grew to 7,150 feet and could accommodate small jets. Hangers were built on the south and north sides of the main terminal building. It became the new location of the Thunderbird Balloon Race. But there was trouble in this new, city paradise. The south hangers languished and were never even remotely fully occupied. The owner declared bankruptcy and the hangers were auctioned off. The city attempted to acquire them but its bid was rejected as too low and they were acquired by a private party. To this day while they are available for lease but they remain almost entirely vacant. The reasons are complicated.  By the mid-90’s the city discontinued hosting the balloon race as the number of spectators it drew overwhelmed airport facilities.

For the next dozen years the airport continued its slow but steady growth. The city hosted the Super Bowl. That event showed what its future held as many corporate jets landed there because of its close proximity to the University of Phoenix Stadium. Top name concert performers and their entourages would also use the airport because it was so conveniently close to their performance venue, Jobing.com Arena.

Then two major events occurred. The national economy suffered a deep recession and the nation’s climb out of it has been slow and painful; and the owner of the south hangers sued the city and lodged a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). He contended that the city allowed the owners of the north hangers more liberal use of their hangers that that with which he was allowed. He prevailed and won a substantial judgment and the FAA now had Glendale’s airport on its radar screen and mandated major changes.

In the next blog we’ll look at the airport today…its challenges and its potential.

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AWARD WINNER FRUGAL SPENDERS…#6 MARTINEZ AND #7 KNAACK

Martinez photo

Manny Martinez

Knaack

Yvonne Knaack

Councilmember Martinez spent $7,117.47 in 6 months of expenditures and Vice Mayor Knaack spent $3,672.29. Both exhibited restraint in their spending with the exception of a few items. It would be appropriate to get an explanation from Councilmember Chavira on his expenditures that in 6 months that are 7 ½ times the amount of Vice Mayor Knaack.

It should be noted that Councilmember Martinez spent $4,126.97 (53% of his 6 months of expenditures) for its intended purpose — that of infrastructure improvements within his district. He, like other councilmembers, has cell phone charges of $411.13 and land line charges of $1,328.00. Otherwise his budget is clean and all of his expenditures are reflected in his infrastructure expenditures, phone charges and the state National League of Cities convention.

Vice Mayor Knaack has no phone charges and is to be highly commended for that practice. She did donate $609.62 to the Glendale Arizona Historical Society. I wonder if she was aware of the thousands of dollars this organization received from other councilmembers. She, too, attended the state National League of Cities convention, very frugally.

money 11Both of these councilmembers have repeatedly called for all councilmembers to reign in their spending and to return portions of their budgets back to the city’s General Fund. They are the only 2 councilmembers to consistently practice what they have preached. They get it. They understand that with Glendale’s financial constraints every penny and every dollar and how it is spent becomes important. Kudos to both.

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Pond update…July 25

Posted by Joyce Clark on July 25, 2013
Posted in fish pondKoi pond  | Tagged With: , , , | 3 Comments

Those wonderful monsoon rains we experienced recently were great…except for the pond. We had a “gully whomper” one day and another entire day when it rained off and on. The rain cooled everything and washed away the dust and dirt…into the pond. Rain water, so I am told, does not contain oxygen and so it depleted the oxygen level in the pond. As a result we lost 3 fish after the rains.

We lost this goldfish. When my husband bought it, it was no more than 2″ long. It had grown to a whopping 8″.

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Goldfish

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Goldfish

 

 

 

 

 

The same fate awaited this metallic black and white skeleton Koi. He was no more than 3″ or 4″ when we got him and he, too, had grown to 8″.

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Skeleton Koi

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Skeleton Koi

 

 

 

 

 

The saddest loss of all was one of my favorite Koi. This guy was also 3″ or 4″ when we bought him and he had grown to a foot long. The coloring on this fish was really good. The front half was red and the back half was predominately black.

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Red White and Black Koi

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Red White and Black Koi

 

 

 

 

 

It’s always sad to lose pets whether it is a dog, cat, hamster or fish. I guess that’s nature’s plan and sometimes even with one’s best efforts, we cannot prevent their loss.

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MIDDLE OF THE ROADERS…#4 WEIERS AND #5 SHERWOOD

Weiers

Jerry Weiers

Sherwood

Gary Sherwood

There is no earth shaking surprise in either of these gentlemen’s budgetary expenditures. Certainly they have not adopted the philosophy or practice of giving your taxpayer dollars away as Chavira, Alvarez and Hugh have done. Mayor Weiers 6 months of expenditures comes in at $14,041.33 and Councilmember Sherwood is not far behind with expenditures of $11,516.37.

It’s common knowledge that they don’t like each other very much as each vies for the title of ultimate power broker in Glendale. They are discussed in unison because they share commonalities when it comes to spending. Both like to travel with each racking up substantial travel expenses and each spent about the same amount for the use of phones whether land line or cell.

money 3Mayor Weiers spent $4,729.15 (33% of his 6 months of expenditures) on travel for 3 trips. In March he and Councilmembers Sherwood and Chavira, staffed by Intergovernmental Director, Brent Stoddard, went to Washington, D.C. for the National League of Cities (NLC) Congressional City Conference. In April Weiers and Stoddard went to Washington, D.C. for the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) Executive Mission. In May Weiers was back in D.C. with Stoddard. If Stoddard’s expenses to staff Weiers and others in D.C. are added those trips become pricier at $8,541.00.

money 5Sherwood spent $3,927.22 (34% of his 6 months of expenditures) on travel as well. If a quarter of Stoddard’s expenses (Stoddard staffed 3 elected officials on the March trip to D.C.) are added, Sherwood’s tab for travel cost the city $5,069.45 in direct and indirect costs. Stoddard typically pays for meals, especially dinners if the elected officials have not been invited by another party. He will pay cab fare and miscellaneous expenses on behalf of the elected officials.

Weiers’ phone bill comes in at $1,259.52 and Sherwood spent $449.10 for his cell and another $789.85 for his land line totaling $1,238.95. Their phone expenditures in 6 months are virtually the same. Is it appropriate to cover their phone expenses? That is a judgment call and something you must decide.The balance of their budgetary expenditures is ordinary and appropriate.

These trips were probably meaningful and were dedicated to lobbying for the city’s interests on issues such as the F-35 to be based at Luke and the casino issue. Everything in D.C. is pricey but we expect moderation. Their lodging and airfare are reasonable for a trip to D.C. but Stoddard’s expenditure of $1,284.52 for meals (dinners for 4) is on the high side.

In an era of frugality and tightened budgetary expenses in Glendale it is more important than ever before that our elected officials spend their travel dollars wisely. A reminder that these trips are funded with taxpayer dollars may encourage them to be more mindful.

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NEXT UP AS BIG SPENDERS ARE #2 ALVAREZ AND #3 HUGH

Norma Alvarez

Norma Alvarez

Hugh photo

Ian Hugh

Councilmember Alvarez is number 2 on the list having spent $26,151.34 and Councilmember Hugh comes in at third at $19,771.12. Both share Chavira’s philosophy of giving away your taxpayer dollars.

 

money 2Here is the list of Alvarez’ donations made in the past 6 months totaling  $16,791.40 (60% of her total 6 month expenditures):

 

  • Glendale Arizona Historical Society……………$3,000.00
  • Community Action Program Holiday Event….$3,000.00
  • Football uniforms for Independence HS…….…$3,391.40
  • Hope for Hunger…………………………………$    500.00
  • Scholarships………………………………………..$   900.00

 

  • Jivemind performance at a Glen. ES*.……………$3,000.00
  • Arizona Melon Festival, LLC*…………………….$3,000.00

*Last two items are for-profit corporations.

Like Chavira, Alvarez donated to the Arizona Melon Festival, LLC money 9(AMF). AMF received a total of $11,000 from 2 councilmembers, Chavira and Alvarez.  Jeff Rose, SW Director of Jivemind, is also a managing member of AMF. Alvarez also donated to Jivemind despite the fact that the Jivemind lease of city property requires the company to offer at least 4 free public events yearly. Ummmm… Also of note Jivemind is renting 6,559 square feet of city property (formerly the Bead Museum) for approximately $2.69/SF. In checking the going rate for lease of downtown Glendale commercial property the lowest cost per square foot that is currently listed is $6.00/SF. Ummmm…

money 8Here is the list of Hugh’s donations made in the past 6 months totaling $9,984.98 (50% of his total 6 month expenditures):

 

  • Glendale Arizona Historical Society……………..$4,669.98
  • Jerseys for youth project………………….……….$1,040.00
  • Hope for Hunger…………………………………..$3,000.00
  • Packages from Home…………………….….….…$1,000.00
  • The Salvation Army………………………..…….$   275.00

Other expenditures of note in Hugh’s budget are 1. Yep, you guessed it. Hugh’s cell phone, just like Chavira’s, is covered at $75 a month and 2. On May 13, 2013 Hugh hosted an event at Shane’s Ribmoney 1 Shack for $1,750.45. That’s a lot of ribs! Was it for his constituents? No further information is provided to clarify this noteworthy expense. It’s ironic that a councilmember whose focus and roots are in downtown Glendale chose a restaurant away from downtown and in Westgate.

All of the non-profits listed above are worthy and deservedly so. They offer much needed services in our community. Some of these groups also receive dollars from Glendale’s From the Heart Program or CBDG funding. From the Heart is a program in which residents have the option to pay an additional dollar on their water/sewer/sanitation bill every month. That dollar goes to From the Heart which often also receives grant match funding from other organizations. The funds are distributed to non-profits on an annual basis. In addition, as Alvarez well knows as a former director of Glendale’s Community Action Program, that the city is a pass-through federal funds (called Community Development Block Grant [CDBG] funds). CDBG funds are distributed annually to non-profits that assist the low to moderate income population in Glendale. These are successful, long-term city mechanisms to distribute funding to the economically disadvantaged and disabled within our community.

Is it appropriate for councilmembers to divert funding from their “communications” and “infrastructure” budgets to non-profits? They are taxpayer dollars and the only judge of these monetary awards is the councilmember. There are dangers in cronyism and abuse. What if there are constituents that are philosophically opposed? These councilmember actions make it perfectly clear that they are not focused on district resident outreach and providing their constituents timely information or in making awards that can physically improve the blight in some of their district neighborhoods.

Yet when these budgets were initially created that was the distinct purpose and intent for the use of these funds in councilmember budgets. The need to fund communication to constituents was an identified primary need as was the ability to “fix” minor neighborhood infrastructure issues that arose and were not budgeted for in the city budget. None of the former councilmembers ever voiced the intent to give the money away to their favorite charities. Yet Alvarez made monetary awards totaling 60% of her entire 6 month expenditures (January 1 to June 30, 2013) and Hugh made awards totaling 50%. It’s time to take a look at councilmember budgets and examine what are to be considered as appropriate expenditures.

money 5These very three councilmembers, Chavira ($27,000), Alvarez ($26,000) and Hugh ($19,000) are big spenders who have no problem in giving your taxpayer dollars to their favorite organizations. Their inability to reign in their individual council budgets demonstrates a philosophy loathe to reign in the city’s budget and to reduce spending. The city must reduce its spending by $23 million by FY 2017 when the increased sales tax sunsets. Yet these councilmembers continue to rack up new expenses that were unbudgeted such as $100,000+ for the Beacon bid process the results of which were ignored; or the $500,000 for an audit which will do no more than place blame on some city middle managers long gone from the organization. If they cannot practice frugality with their own council budgets why should we expect them to cut city expenses, something so desperately needed, that continue to outpace its revenues?

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A casino in Phoenix?

Posted by Joyce Clark on July 23, 2013
Posted in Casino  | Tagged With: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

There is a story in the Arizona Republic of July 23, 2013 entitled Feds might retake prime parcel written by Eugene Scott. There is a 15 acre parcel of land that the federal government, in a very complicated land deal, sold to Barron Collier Development. It is located on the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Indian School Road. Barron Collier has stopped making $60 million in payments to the feds for that parcel. Ownership may revert back to the federal government.

casino 1Justin Johnson, a candidate for Phoenix City Council and the son of former Mayor Paul Johnson, recently said, “My concern is that if the federal government takes over, that they can develop something without public input and it won’t go through local control, and it won’t fit inside the city’s general plan.” He also offered the worst case scenario for that parcel, “We don’t have to look any further than what is going on in Glendale to see the nightmare scenario which could transpire. A potential casino in downtown Phoenix is not a compatible use in this urban area near neighborhoods and schools.”

As has been repeatedly pointed out, if the Tohono O’odham Tribe legally prevails in its quest to place a casino on a county island within an incorporated city, as it is attempting to do in Glendale,the state gaming compact is destroyed. It becomes null and void. As you can see, now one of the Phoenix council candidates has voiced concern with regard to this 15 acre parcel that will end up in federal ownership. Since it would once again become federal land Phoenix would have absolutely no control over what is developed and how it looks.

 It would be ironic if a Tribe created a secret shell company and bought the parcel, waited a few years, and then announced that they were building a casino on the site – shades of Glendale. This is a lesson for all Valley communities. Watch out if you have a county island within your city.  If the Tohono O’odham are successful in Glendale you could be next as casino development warfare erupts.

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AS THE BIGGEST SPENDER WE BEGIN WITH CHAVIRA

Chavira photo

Sammy Chavira

We start with Councilmember Chavira who, in 6 months, spent $27,748.18 and is the biggest spender on council. The six district councilmembers have 2 distinct budgets. These budgets do not include staff salaries or office operations (the mayor’s budget does include these items).

One budget will be identified as “Communications” and is for outreach to district residents and totals $15,000 a year. Its purpose is to allow the councilmember to hold district meetings, neighborhood meetings and to publish a district newsletter, if he/she so chooses. It is fortunate having been a councilmember there is personal knowledge with which to make some comparisons. I used the “communications” budget to mail a spring and fall district newsletter to every household in my district for I knew that not all households in my district were connected to the internet. Currently the only other source of district information is an electronic newsletter via the internet and the resident must sign up for it. This funding source was also used to rent space for district meetings and to provide refreshments for the attendees. Those two major activities would consume nearly all of the funds available in this budget.

The councilmembers’ other budget will be identified as“Infrastructure” and is used for physical improvement projects within the councilmember’s district and totals $18,000 annually. Typically it is used for those items that do not make it into the city budget because there is no available funding source. Examples of its use are district park improvements and physical improvements to a specific neighborhood. I have also used this funding source for pilot projects. The two most notable are a pilot project to put up mid-block identification signage for vehicular traffic. The white street identification signs seen as you approach an intersection in your vehicle began as my pilot project. It was later adopted throughout the city. Another pilot project was the purchase of E-readers for loan to district residents. After the project concluded I donated the E-readers to the city libraries and my project provided the impetus for the city’s library system to loan out E-readers to all library users.

My travel expenses were limited. As the National League President’s appointed Arizona representative to the National League of Cities Public Safety and Crime Prevention (PSCP) Policy Committee I attended 2 mandatory policy development meetings a year. I did not consistently attend the annual National or State League of Cities conventions. Those trips were paid from the “Communications” budget. Since 80% of that budget was consumed by district resident outreach I was very selective about travel.

money 4Chavira appears to have a very different philosophy with regard to the spending from these two budgets.  He did spend $7,000 (25%)on park benches for the Western Area Regional Park but his major priorities (40% of his 6 months of expenditures) are a donation to a for-profit corporation and travel. In March, 2013 Chavira attended the 4-day National League of Cities (NLC) Congressional City Conference. Directly attributable to his budget, he spent $2,507.28 on airfare, meals, lodging, registration, etc. Ah, but there’s more. Mayor Weiers and Councilmember Sherwood also attended. All three gentlemen were staffed by Brent Stoddard, Glendale’s Intergovernmental Program Director.  Stoddard’s total travel costs for that conference were $4,568.94. Stoddard’s expenses often include the cost of cab fare, dinners, etc. for elected officials. That expense, divided 4 ways among Stoddard and the three men he staffed, adds another indirect $1,142.23 to Chavira’s direct expense of $2507.28 for that March conference for a total of $3,649.51. That figure averages nearly $1000 a day ($912.38). Sammy spent 10% of his total 6 months worth of expenditures on one trip.

money 3Even more incredibly this past June Sammy gave $8,000 of your taxpayer dollars (29% of the $27K spent) to the Arizona Melon Festival LLC, a for-profit corporation, to host the Arizona Watermelon Festival in downtown Glendale on June 8, 2013. Now it gets interesting. The organizers of the event were the Arizona Melon Festival, LLC; AZ Culture; and the City of Glendale. The sponsors were Coors Light (Beer Garden area); G Farms (donated all of the watermelons); AZ Weekly (small independent entertainment magazine); TSO Apparel (small embroidery business); Southwest Ambulance; the City of Glendale; and the West Valley Resort (the Tohono O’odham’s proposed casino whose project the City of Glendale legally opposes). The relationships of some of these organizations’ principals are interesting to note. In a future blog you will see that Councilmember Alvarez gave $3,000 to the Arizona Melon Festival, LLC. and another $3,000 to Jivemind as well.

Who are the owners of the Arizona Melon Festival, LLC?

  • Its statutory agent is Dustin Chaffin of Jivemind (the city rents this property at below market rate to Jivemind — former site of the bead museum. Go to http://www.glendaleaz.com/Clerk/Contracts/7901.pdf for its rental contract).
  • Gabriel Bey, of AZ Culture
  • Lulu Rodriguez of Bitzee Mama’s
  • Linda Moran-Whittley of Papa Ed’s Ice Cream
  • Jeff Rose of Jivemind
  • Danica Coral of the Pink House

If this festival earned any profit those proceeds would go to the people listed above. The sponsorship of Southwest Ambulance is not surprising. Martin Nowakowski, its Community Relations Director, happens to be a close friend of both Chavira and Alvarez and avidly supported both in their election bids. So did the Tohono O’odham (TO). They not only bore the cost of political campaign mailers endorsing them but solicited campaign contributions.  Yet the city is fending off the proposed TO casino. How embarrassing for the city to be intimately associated with the TO as a sponsor of this newly created, for-profit festival.

money 1At least 40% of Chavira’s 6 months worth of expenditures went for a trip to Washington, D.C. and to assist a for-profit corporation in their production of a new downtown event. And let’s not forget the $75 a month that you, the taxpayer, pay for his monthly cell phone. It is more than ironic that in Sammy’s campaign literature mailed to voters in October, 2012 he said, “Glendale is in fiscal danger and Sam is coming to help.” Was this the kind of help you expected? Or how about this from another campaign mailer, “Sammy is running to fix the budget and save Glendale.” Somehow or another, spending $8,000 on a festival doesn’t seem like the right road to fixing Glendale’s budget or saving Glendale.  Next up will be Councilmembers Alvarez and Hugh with positions #2 and #3 as Big Spenders.

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Our second excursion was to the Laguna Koi Ponds located at 20457 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651. Their hours of operation are Mon-Sat 9-5 and Sun 10-5. Their phone number is 949-484-8960 and their website is www.lagunakoi.com.

This was a very well run commercial operation. Again, we were the only visitors that morning. One of the owners, Danny, was extremely informative and answered our questions thoroughly. They had some small demonstration ponds and here are some photos.

demo pond 4demo pond 3demo pond 2demo pond 1

Laguna Koi has a humongous filtration system.  I didn’t think to get any photos but I can describe it. It was an above ground, large box, about 4’ or 5’ wide, 3’ deep and about 4’ high. In it were a series of approximately 8 to 10 medium to fine filter media. Danny said that his system handles 5,000 gallons and they usually only have to clean the filter media once a year.

little guys

Little Koi

All of his fish holding tanks were concrete and the water was very, very clear. This brings me to two major lessons learned in visiting both Koi farms. One lesson learned is that shade is essential.  We all know that California does not experience the temperatures that we do in Arizona. They also do not deal with intense sunlight 360 days a year yet they consider shade in their environment to be very important. Both Koi farms had shade over their fish holding tanks. Laguna Koi said it brings down the temperature of the water by as much as 15 degrees and the shade also inhibits the growth of algae which loves the direct sunlight that causes it to grow and multiply.

medium guys

Medium sized Koi

When we returned home we bought some shade cloth and had it assembled into a canopy measuring 18’ X 33’. We plan to put it up this week and I will share our experience as we do so. We are expecting the shade to lower our 86-90 degree surface water temperature by 10 degrees and we are hoping it will reduce the tremendous algae production we experience during July-September. It will be portable and we will take it down in the fall for reuse next summer. Stay tuned for our shade erection adventure.

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Large Koi

The second major lesson learned is that our filtration system is inadequate. Both Koi farms had very large filtration systems with lots and lots of filtration media. We know from our experiment with our small, garbage can-sized, external filtration system that it helps to rid the pond of algae. Our visit confirmed that we are on the right track but our system is undersized and is being overwhelmed by algae. This fall we will develop a plan to add more filtration and in the winter when the fish are torpid we will build it. This, too, I will share.

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Large Koi

There has been one more lesson learned but not by visiting the Koi farms. About a month ago we added an aerator to the pond. It is a temporary measure. We have two waterfalls that run 24/7 but on extremely hot days the oxygen levels in the pond can drop precipitously. We placed a pump in the pond, connected a piece of hose and put a spray nozzle on the end of the hose. It adds additional oxygen to the pond water. One day we had to turn it off. By that afternoon I saw one of the 8”-10” goldfish coming to the surface and desperately gulping for air. The fish usually stay at the very bottom of the pond during the day. I freaked out, restarted the aerator and let it run all night. Usually I run it during daylight hours only. I expected to see a dead fish on the surface the next morning. To my delight he did not die and can be seen swimming and feeding with the pack. We learned that our instinct was correct and the extra oxygenating is helping our fish to combat the stress of an Arizona summer.

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