AS THE BIGGEST SPENDER WE BEGIN WITH 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.
Chavira 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.
Even 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.
At 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.