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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

What exactly is in Representative Trent Franks’ bill, H.R. 1410? In the world of Congress it is short and sweet. Here is a link to the text of the bill: http://www.keepingthepromiseaz.com/.

H.R. 1410 specifically cites the 2002 voter approved state Gaming Compact which expires in 2027.The bill states that there was a promise to Arizona voters that there would be no new casinos in the state, especially within the Phoenix metropolitan area, other than those specifically granted within the Compact. It requires that there be no new casinos in Maricopa and Pima Counties. This stipulation covers the period from April 9, 2013 to January 1, 2027. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less.

This bill enjoys bipartisan support not only among the Arizona delegation but in Congress as well. It has passed the House of Representatives and has moved to the Senate. Its fate is unknown. It will be voted up or down or ignored in this session. If no action occurs it dies and will have to be reintroduced in the next session of Congress. If the midterm elections prove to be wildly successful for the Republicans there is a good chance for its successful passage.

The Tohono O’odham (TO) and their supporters are positively hyperventilating over this bill. If passed the TO simply cannot build in Glendale – certainly not until 2027 when the Gaming Compact is up for renewal by voters.

What many fail to realize is that the proposed casino is not in the hands of Glendale. We all await a decision from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court followed by a final clarifying decision by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Then there is the Supreme Court decision on the case of Michigan vs. Bay City on the issue of Tribal sovereign immunity. Don’t for a second believe that these decisions won’t be appealed – for they will. We are still years away from a final outcome.

Why all the posturing by the TO and their supporters right now? Could it be because the Gila River Indian Community and their sister tribes have ramped up their profile of late by advertising on TV and underwriting a letter of support by Mayor Weiers? They must be chagrinned to see the Gila River Indian Community award a grant to Glendale that is 10 times larger than the $40,000+ they awarded a month ago.

The drama will continue with both sides posturing and vying for the hearts and minds of Glendale residents. Yet the ultimate decision rests elsewhere.

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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The City Council meeting of November 26, 2013 had a raucous start, much like council meetings of old. The notion of putting citizen comments at the start of every meeting may come back to bite this council as they experienced their first hour long marathon of citizen commentary. I am not including the public commentary on the night of the Coyotes’ vote as that was to be expected. No, this time it was the opening salvo of a regular, assumed-to-be ho hum council meeting. It was anything but not just because of citizen commentary but because of all of the very serious issues that were up for a vote (more about those issues over the course of the next few blogs).

A majority of council did not comment about citizen commentary at the start of every meeting. Councilmember Sherwood did and made clear that he does not like it. It’s almost as if he considers citizen comments to be irrelevant and just an irritation that prevents him from performing what he considers to be the real business of council. His sentiment was arrogant to say the least. Then Councilmember Alvarez, who is wedded to citizen comments first, just had to rebut Sherwood’s remarks by saying, “When we were elected we were (sic) committed to be here.” How ironic as this is the councilmember who holds the record for her non-attendance at scads of meetings. She even has had the temerity when calling in to council meetings to hang up before the meeting’s conclusion and thus missed those all important citizen comments.

It looks like the Keeping the Promise anti casino group has seared the nerves of the casino supporters with their running of a TV ad and underwriting the costs of an anti casino letter penned by Mayor Weiers. They had their usual suspects…er, supporters out in force to speak on the TO’s behalf before the council. The usual mouthpieces have decided to become visible once again…Ken Jones and Arthur Thruston to name but two. Due to their advanced age they needed time to rest and recharge before becoming public gadflies again. Can you believe that Ken Jones was advocating for yet another public vote? This time his target is the casino. You’d think he would have learned that one needs to be careful what one wishes for. His last effort fizzled out like water dousing a fire. He also opined that the people of Glendale do not need Keeping the Promise running our city and buying city officials. Oh really? Guess he figures it’s okay when the Tohono O’odham appear as if they are buying city officials like Alvarez. He never took the time to complain about Alvarez and her antics with the Tohono O’odham.

Thruston, bless his heart, simply relies on picking and choosing his facts. Those that he doesn’t like, he ignores. He trots down to the podium with a handful of newspaper clippings and pontificates on issues culled from the newspapers (and of course, their, ahem, totally unbiased reportage). He fancies himself as a raconteur in the vein of a modern day Will Rodgers who once said, “you know everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.”                       

What engendered all of the citizen commentary was Item 12 of the Consent Resolution agenda accepting a grant of over $400,000 from the Gila River Tribe for the purchase of a fire truck. Yet, there was no comment from the citizens when council voted to accept a Tohono O’odham grant of $40,000+ to fund the Glendale Youth Project on October 22, 2013 – a scant month ago. In fact, Alvarez voted to accept that grant voicing praise and voted to reject tonight’s grant. Could her bias be showing? What’s changed? The acceptance of a grant from an anti casino Tribe. That’s the only difference. What was even more astounding were the citizen accusations that Mayor Weiers and Councilmember Martinez are shilling for the casino opposition.  When Councilmember Alvarez engages in the same activity it’s not considered shilling. Strange, isn’t it? There’s an old saying, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Alvarez would be well served to rein in her troops or she may find her glass two story home (second story improvement not recorded nor additional property tax paid) shattered in all of the cross fire. It’s merely an observation.

Another action of note is Councilmember Sherwood’s reversal of position on the casino. When he ran last year he was opposed to the casino. He even met and collaborated with now Mayor Weiers, I and candidate Gary Hirsch, all of whom shared the same anti casino position. The anti casino Tribes even did an independent political mailing expressing their support for Sherwood because he ran on a platform of opposition to the casino. Now, inexplicitly or perhaps not so inexplicitly, he has reversed his stance. He, along with Councilmembers Hugh and Chavira, wrote to the Department of the Interior saying don’t pay attention to Glendale’s opposition to a Tohono O’odham casino. Why has the champion of Westgate abandoned it? Remember all of his talk about the necessity of the Coyotes as an anchor for Westgate because the team would attract traffic to Westgate and keep it viable?  Does he really believe that the casino will help Westgate? Nah. Rumor has it that he was contacted by the pro casino forces right after his election and they may have assured him that if he moved to the dark side they would assist in bank rolling his next election. Was that just too good a deal for Sherwood to pass up? You decide.

So, who is keeping the promise to Glendale’s residents? The promise that a casino does not belong in Glendale, will cost our taxpayers for the supporting infrastructure and will destroy a pledge made by all of the tribes (including the Tohono O’odham) when seeking voter support for the 2002 voter approved Gaming Compact. It’s no longer Sherwood. If he could change his position on this issue so readily, how can we believe what his stance is on other issues? It appears that his guiding principle has become one of pragmatism but what has happened to one’s word being one’s bond?

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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Knock out the Knock Out Game

Posted by Joyce Clark on November 22, 2013
Posted in Musings over a cup of early morning tea  | Tagged With: , , , , | 1 Comment

I prefer to opine on local issues in Glendale for that is my comfort zone having served on City Council for so many years. It’s time to move beyond my comfort zone. Lately there has arisen a gruesome, national phenomenon called the “Knock-Out Game.”  They also call it “Ghost Hunting” as a reference to their white targets. It is a game played exclusively by Afro American youth. It entails a group of kids, one of whom suddenly leaves the pack and punches someone. That someone is always a white person for apparently that is the only criterion for choosing a victim. The group walks off laughing assuming that there will be no consequence. When will one of these kids choose someone who is armed and shoots back? We are sure to hear about it then. It is videoed and put on social media for all to see. It started in New York City and since has spread to seven states.  To date it has resulted in two deaths from these assaults.

Is it a hate crime? It appears to be since the victims are all white. Even more disturbing is the evident lack of moral compass and values these youth possess. In our nation’s effort to be politically correct we are failing our children. To insure that everyone is treated the same and offered the same opportunities our nation is slowly eroding the very concept of individual achievement and individual responsibility.

What has happened to our nation’s moral fabric when a group of kids think it’s fun to randomly inflict injury and perhaps death on a stranger with the only criterion being that it be someone not of your race? Where is our collective outrage? Or will we offer the typical excuse and rationalize their behavior by pointing to their disadvantaged backgrounds?

Where is the media outrage? Where is their reportage in an effort to warn people? Where is our outrage on the plethora of social media sites? Have we all become AWOL? I am disgusted by these random acts of violence done solely for amusement. At least I have now spoken up about it and I hope others will do so as well.

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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Caitlin McGlade of the Arizona Republic has a story on a Supreme Court case that may affect the Tohono O’odham’s prospects of building a casino in Glendale. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com//community/glendale/articles/20131118west-valley-casino-appeal-delayed-until-us-supreme-court-decision.html?source=nletter-

The state as well as other stakeholders such as the Tribes opposed to the TO Casino have asked the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to wait until the Supreme Court renders a decision on tribal immunity. The Supreme Court schedule begins in October and they hear their last case arguments in April. In May they begin to announce decisions. It is assumed that the 9th Circuit Court will agree and wait until the results of the State of Michigan vs. the Bay Mills Indian Community are rendered.

The TO case has no common ground with the Michigan case but the decision that flows from the Michigan decision will definitively impact the issue of tribal sovereign immunity across the country. The Supreme Court decision may help the Valley tribes stop the TO’s plans but it’s a double-edged sword and will affect the concept of tribal sovereign immunity. How much is anyone’s guess — it could be a little or it could be a lot.  

Sovereign immunity is a complex issue and as with all rights can and has been used positively and negatively. It provides all Indian Tribes with the right to determine their long term destinies and protects them legally. It is a concept not often understood and many have  realized, too late, that they have no legal rights on reservation land.

Lately the local media has offered citizen comments on the issue of the casino. The common theme is that the Tribes opposing the casino are greedy and are attempting to thwart competition. It is a simplistic and false notion offered repeatedly to those who are not invested in the outcome but may have a voice in the ultimate decision. They conveniently ignore a major consequence – the destruction of the State Gaming Compact and its effects. There are people who get it and understand that if the delicate balance achieved by the Compact is destroyed the door is open to see the proliferation of casinos throughout the Phoenix Metro area. There are many other reasons to keep this casino out of Glendale but they have been offered by me and others ad nausea.

So, we wait.

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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The Tuesday, November 19, 2013 Glendale city council workshop is jam packed and includes a Development Impact Fee update, the Fire Department Budget deficit, special project recommendations and the Ballpark Boulevard extension.

Since the Arizona Legislature changed the way all cities in the state can impose, collect and spend Development Impact Fees Glendale, like many other cities, has developed a new Impact Fee structure. Impact Fees are charged to new developments and the developers typically add these fees into the price of a home, apartment, office, commercial or industrial building. Tischler Bise is the consultant hired to prepare the study on Impact Fees. I would like to know the cost of the study for I assure you, as thorough as it is, it was not cheap.

The consultants divide Glendale into three zones. The East Zone runs the entire length of Glendale, north to south and from 43rd Avenue to 75th Avenue. It is a very large zone and is approximately 42 square miles.  The Loop 101 zone is the smallest running from Northern Avenue to Camelback Road, 75th Avenue to 115 Avenue. It is a very small zone and is approximately 13 square miles. The West Zone is all land within Glendale’s annexation boundaries and is approximately 36 square miles. Although very thorough the consultants provide no rationale for the establishment of the Zones that are essential to the study.

There is concern with the disparity of size of the zones for they comprise a “nexus.” By that is meant that development impact fees are collected and spent within each zone. With the Loop 101 Zone being the smallest there will be less opportunity to collect/spend fees to provide the same quantity and quality of infrastructure as enjoyed by the East Zone. As an equitable issue all land south of Northern Avenue from 43rd Avenue to 115th Avenue should form the Loop 101 Zone. That would remove approx. 12 square miles from the East Zone making it approx. 30 square miles and increasing the Loop 101 Zone to 25 square miles. The West Zone would remain static at 36 square miles.

The balance of the study is impressive. Their facts and figures are well grounded and formulas are used to determine what the new fee structure for state mandated infrastructure should be. Although the Development Impact Fee structure is no longer what Glendale and every other city used previously there is no choice but to work within the new state-mandated regulations. We will not see the kind of Impact Fees that helped to make Glendale what it is today but it is important that we make the best use of them possible. With the exception of the determination of the zone configuration this is exactly what this study does.

The second item of discussion is the fire department’s deficit. There is but one question to ask. Is the fire department being managed effectively by current Fire Chief Burdick? In juxtaposition the Police Department led by Chief Deborah Black is not facing this kind of deficit. What kind of deficit? How about $1,674,887 minus one-time savings netting a deficit of $1,328,070? In addition the on-going, annual deficit of over $800,000  goes to pay for overtime due to the department’s philosophy of “constant staffing.” It’s time for a study to demonstrate which brings more value to citizens – constant staffing which entails an enormous amount of overtime at time and a half pay or the hiring of more personnel eliminating the need for the constant staffing regimen and its requisite overtime pay.

That item will be followed by a presentation and discussion of recommendations that resulted from the half million dollar external audit.  The City Auditor’s and City Attorney’s roles will be part of that discussion as well as the Trust Fund Citizen Boards and departmental internal premiums for risk management.

The last item of discussion will be what to do about Ballpark Boulevard. The city in an agreement with the two baseball teams agreed to extend Ballpark Boulevard north to 99th Avenue and Maryland Avenue. The current, approved concept will cost the city $18 million to acquire land for right-of-way and construction. Mayor Weiers asked that two alternatives be considered that would come in between $6 and $8 million. Both of these alternatives would run adjacent to the city’s airport on either its west or east side. The only problem with the alternatives is that they will not replace the contractually mandated concept of connecting to 99th and Maryland. That will still have to be done. So the question is…does the city construct a stop gap measure costing $6 to $8 million now knowing that down the road it still must spend $18 million per its contract with the City of Phoenix and both baseball teams? The city has no money right now and without any demonstrated urgency it is something that can wait. Neither Phoenix nor the teams are demanding immediate action.

This is not going to be one of the council’s typical one hour or less meetings. The issues are complex and I would hope that council “has done its homework” and is prepared to ask meaningful and relevant questions on all of these complex issues…but then again, it could be wishful thinking.

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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Two recent news stories can have you scratching your head and saying, “What the heck?” Just when you think Glendale has its act together it trips over itself and acts either incomprehensibly or incompetently.

It appears the NFL is still miffed with Glendale. I don’t buy it. Glendale successfully hosted one Super Bowl and is using the same model, only updated, to host the next one. Supposedly the NFL is in a stew about three issues: parking, Glendale hoteliers’ refusal to join the NFL’s room bloc and lack of Glendale leadership.

What about parking? Glendale provided the necessary parking at the last Super Bowl and will do so again. It has the requisite parking lined up already. It’s a non-issue.

What about the room bloc? Glendale cannot tell private businesses what to do and what to charge for room rates. Perhaps if the NFL sweetened the pot a bit for Glendale’s hotels there would be incentive for joining the room bloc.

What about Glendale’s leadership? It appears that the current city council has sent numerous signals that they are on board and willing to take whatever action necessary to make the Super Bowl a success. It is a smoke and mirrors issue apparently being jinned by two entities: the Arizona Host Committee and the Bidwills. On nearly all levels of Glendale must communicate with the NFL executives through one or both of those entities. Remember the kid’s game of post office? By the time the original message went through several people the final message was nothing like the original. Glendale’s message is filtered by two, not-so-friendly entities.

The Host Committee has got to be walking around with a bag full of guilt knowing that all events but two are sited outside of Glendale and that Glendale will get the bill for the Super Bowl and probably lose money again. They have been very reluctant to assist Glendale in legislatively crafting a mechanism to make Glendale whole. Apparently Glendale’s losses are not a concern.

The Bidwills apparently are not giving the NFL kudos about Glendale because they are angry about NFL Super Bowl unrelated issues. They are angry that they didn’t get their way about putting up a training tent on Glendale’s Youth Sports Fields adjacent to the stadium and they are angry (perhaps in this case justified) that their partnership with SMG to bid on managing Jobing.com was ignored. Glendale did handle that badly by accepting bids and then letting them hang out there in limbo while it brazenly accepted IceArizona’s deal to manage the arena. The entire situation was strange to say the least. Another issue may be one of the lack of a parking garage. The Bidwills know that Glendale cannot afford to build one at this time. Soooo….the Bidwill’s land on both sides of stadium already has approved zoning (including the right to build a parking garage or two) as Sportsmen’s Park, East and West. If the Bidwills want a garage so badly why don’t they take out an incredibly low interest loan from the NFL and build one on their land??

It’s time that the Host Committee and the Bidwills stopped stewing and accepted the fact that Glendale is the host city. To make this event successful it’s time they lifted Glendale up rather than attempting to stomp it into the ground. They say publicly that they want Glendale to be a full participating member of the team but behind the scenes Glendale is virtually ignored. When another successful Super Bowl is over it will be in great measure because of Glendale’s efforts to insure its success.

Glendale is showing that its methods of operation haven’t changed much, if at all, under new City Manager leadership. It appears that Glendale missed the FEMA deadline for submitting paperwork regarding its flood prone areas in the city. A special council meeting had to be scheduled last Tuesday despite the fact that Weiers, Sherwood and Chavira were attending the National League of Cities convention in Seattle. They participated telephonically, something the Surprise city council just voted to abandon as a practice.

It was only discovered after several citizens called the city to complain that they were denied coverage. Don’t believe the disclaimer that it’s not a big deal because most of Glendale’s flood plain is in its river beds. There is also substantial land along Grand Avenue that has historically flooded and is in the flood plain. How could this fall through the cracks?

And the City Manager’s remedy? Expect another firing of some employee becoming the latest “fall guy” in the string of recent firings. Glendale hasn’t changed under new leadership. It still fudges on transparency. It refused to publicize its investigative report generated from the half million dollar external audit until the Arizona Republic made a Freedom of Information Request. It continues to follow the philosophy of omission; leaving out the negative, in an effort to spin any issue positively. Sometimes Glendale, you just have to say that you screwed up.

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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Recently the John F. Long Family Trust filed two zoning applications. There will be a public meeting on Monday, November 25, 2013 at the Desert Mirage Elementary School hosted by the applicant. I urge local residents to attend.

One effect of these zoning requests is that the Trust is requesting that 53 acres be used for multifamily housing units (apartments). More land will be used for attached single family housing, another very dense concept. They want land with the highest density possible because it makes the land more valuable and they earn a greater profit when it is sold. The 384 acres of Trust land is located south of the Grand Canal Linear Park to Camelback Road, 83rd Avenue to 91st Avenue.

The City of Glendale’s heart is pumping wildly at the very thought. After all, they are already counting the hefty construction tax, impact fees and sales tax that will be earned as these apartments are built. The heck with its effect on surrounding, existent residents.

They hope that you don’t know that the city has already granted developers (or entitled the developers) the right to build another 4,000 apartment units in West Glendale, the Westgate area.  The last thing that West Glendale needs is another 736 apartments, especially in an area of large lot homes.

If you do a Google search of the effects of multifamily housing on communities you will find positive study after study underwritten by multifamily housing associations or federal government studies as to why multifamily housing is good for us all.

However, I did find one unbiased study done for the Town of Boone, North Carolina by Jud & Associates in 2005. Boone had a moratorium on the building of more apartment units for several years previous to the study and wanted to know if the latest development proposal to build apartments was good or bad for their community. They discovered that it was a question of economics versus quality of life. The study concluded, “A number of academic studies have examined the effects of municipal zoning as practiced in Boone and elsewhere. These studies generally provide support for the idea that proximity to multi-family housing damages the values of single-family homes. An estimated statistical model of housing values in Boone suggests that residential values rise 8.7 percent for every one-mile increase in the distance to the nearest apartment project. The statistical estimates of the housing model provide evidence that proximity to multifamily apartments lowers the values of single-family structures.” In other words multi-family housing damages the values of single-family homes. It lowers property values for existent residents.

An MIT Real Estate Center study identified what it called the “Removal Effect.” It said, “The Joint Center for Housing at Harvard University notes that the construction of rental housing is notable for the way that it impacts the existing neighborhood in terms of what is removed from the neighborhood. While rental housing does have the potential to replace rundown portions of the neighborhood, it also has the further potential to cause the erasure of attractive elements of the community.” In Glendale’s case since the land is currently used for agriculture the removal effect is that it removes the possibility of development of a stable, single family housing subdivision and a grocery anchored commercial center – something West Glendale sorely lacks.

There are other intangible effects of apartments on the health of a community. Apartment renters are by their very nature transient. Did you know that a 1997 study found that 34 % of apartment renters moved in the previous year? If the apartment renter is under 30 years of age that number jumps to 53%. What does this mean to a community? It means that a renter does not invest time or talent in the community. Typically renters do not volunteer in the community. Very few of them vote. They lack knowledge of or interest in local community affairs. Why should they? They will be there a year or two and then move on. It should be noted that senior apartment complexes do not fit this description.

Impact fees paid by developers do not cover the entire cost of increased services needed — water, sewer and sanitation. In fact, apartment owners are free to contract their sanitation services with public or private entities. What about new roads and traffic lights? The developer is usually required to put these elements in at their cost but future operating and maintenance costs belong to the city.

There is also the increased need for public safety – police and fire. Logically apartment units with their much higher populations will have more crime and need these services much more often than a single family subdivision.  In conversations with police officers when asked where crime hot spots are inevitably they will identify an apartment complex.

A case in point about density is the O’Neil Ranch subdivision located from Bethany Home Road to Camelback Road, 59th Ave. to 67th Ave. It is ringed by 10 apartment complexes. Over the years these complexes have not always been maintained, much less upgraded causing their monthly rents to become lower and lower. It is one of the highest crime areas in the city. It has attracted not the normal retail a neighborhood wants and expects but rather 23 package liquor stores, a plethora of fast food restaurants and pawn shops. As a result the 1300+ homes in O’Neil have lost value and their average price is about $90,000. That’s being generous. Some homes have sold for as low as $79,000.

Over the years, I have steadfastly opposed apartment construction. They do not contribute to the overall health of a community. Their residents are transient and do not invest in themselves in the community. Crime increases because of the dense population in apartment complexes. Often the complex may not be a high quality product to start and over time its quality tends to deteriorate. I know that some will point to some spiffy, upscale apartment complex to belie these conclusions but that is not the kind of development that will be built on the 53 acres in question. There will be more apartments in West Glendale’s future  — guaranteed. More are not needed or wanted in an area whose character has been one of large lot development. Oh, by the way, how many apartment complexes are there in Arrowhead?

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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On November 9, 2013 I received the following letter from Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers. The letter and the mailing were underwritten by Keeping the Promise: No Casinos in Neighborhoods. It is a coalition of Indian Tribes opposed to the proposed casino. You may have seen the TV ads this group is running. I’m glad to see that they have stepped up their efforts to educate the public about the negative impacts of a casino in Glendale.  Kudos to Mayor Weiers and Keeping the Promise for clarifying a majority of council’s latest directive. The public should know that Glendale has not capitulated and a majority of council has asked that the impacts of the proposed casino in Glendale be reviewed and that the results be made public.  This fact finding effort does not mean that Glendale supports the Tohono O’odham’s (TO) proposed casino. Over the past 10 months I have offered a great deal of information in refute of the TO’s claims about the positive impacts of a casino in Glendale. If you look through my blog archives you will find at least a dozen casino articles. In support of the Mayor’s and Keeping the Promise’s latest effort, I offer the entire letter for your information:

Dear Fellow Glendale Resident:

The City of Glendale means the world to me. It’s been home to my family for more than 14 years and I’m proud to serve you as your Mayor. I believe you elected me for one very simple reason: To do what’s right for our City. To me, doing what’s right for Glendale means acting without regard for politics or popularity and always keeping focused on our City’s economic well-being, the safety of our residents and the future of our children and families.

That’s why I oppose the off-reservation casino proposal put forward by the Tohono O’odham Nation.

The Nation’s proposal – to build a massive casino at 91st Avenue and Northern – is an issue I have been studying and dealing with since the Tribe unveiled its plan back in 2009. Then, I was in the Arizona Legislature, where I sponsored legislation meant to hold the Nation accountable to the gaming compacts approved by Arizona’s Tribes and voters back in 2002. Today, as your Mayor, I continue to receive input on this issue from neighbors and stakeholders that gives me pause about the impact of this Casino on our City.

What concerns me?

I fear that Tohono O’odham Nation’s revenue and job projection, which have been exposed as wildly optimistic by a number of analyses, will fall far short of reality, creating an unsuccessful “while elephant” that siphons off police, fire and other resources from a City that is already struggling to meet our public safety and infrastructure needs.

Just as importantly, I worry about the impact of the Casino and its accompanying resort and restaurants on the surrounding small businesses in  the area. Dollars spent on gambling or entertainment on the newly christened reservation generate no tax revenue for Glendale – and will inevitably come at the expense of Glendale businesses that have worked hard to make a go of it during a fierce economic downturn.

My other concern has to do with the Tribe itself – an entity that bought its land in secret and did nothing to inform or partner with the City on the Casino until after it was unveiled. In the years since, the Tribe has fought Glendale at every turn, costing our City more than $3 million in legal fees and thousands of man-hours as we have sought to protect our residents and businesses from the encroachment of a Casino located near schools, day care facilities, churches and homes.

Recently, you may have heard that the City Council has agreed to open a dialogue with the Nation. Let me be clear on the aim of this exchange of information. It does not represent support of the Tribe’s project. Instead, it’s a fact-finding conversation, one meant to ascertain the potential benefits and harms that come with having a casino on sovereign land located in this City we all call home. I see this conversation as a positive, since it will bring to the table all concerned for a settling of the facts – which have been sorely lacking during the years of hype and hyperbole.

Rest assured, I will report back to you as the facts come out, to let you know the truth about this controversial project.

In your service,

Jerry Weiers

Mayor, City of Glendale

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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As a councilmember one of the many skills I picked up quite quickly was Zoning and its methods, practices, implications and effects. Quite a few years ago, about 8 or 9 years ago, Jake Long and the Long’s attorney, Jim Miller, met with me as the councilmember representing the Yucca district. The Long family owns a substantial piece of property (384 acres) between 83rd Avenue and 91st Avenue, Grand Canal Linear Park south to Camelback Road. They shared their proposed development plan for that land. I can’t remember all of it but what did stick in my head was their desire to plant apartments directly south of the Grand Canal Linear Park. I made it clear that I would not support their plan and they went away — until now. Now that I am no longer representing the district their assumption must be that the atmosphere is more conducive to granting their zoning requests. I hope not as it would the lower property values and the quality of life of many residents of West Glendale.

I had long ago signed up with the city Planning Department’s “Interested Parties” notification list. Because I am on that list on November 8, 2013 I received a letter from Earl, Curley and LeGarde, P.C., attorneys representing the Long Trust on its latest zoning applications. Like a bad penny, the same zoning requests presented to me many years ago by the Long family (this time with disastrous modifications) has turned up once again.

The city’s General Plan for this parcel of 384 acres currently designates zoning of 2.5 to 3.5 homes to the acre and a limited amount of Commercial. That current designation yields 960 homes on the low end to 1344 homes on the high end. There are no multifamily residential (apartments) allowed.

These Long Family Trust zoning applications do not contain specificity for the entire parcel. They do state what they plan for 64 of the 384 acres: 27 acres of 5 to 8 dwelling units to the acre which yields a low of 135 units and a high of 216 units; 26 acres of 12 to 20 dwelling units to the acres which yields a low of 240 units and a high of 520 units; and 11 acres of planned Commercial. So we know from the proposal that there could be a low of 375 apartment units to a high of 736 units on 64 acres or 16% of the entire 384 acres. It is not clear where this 64 acre portion is located. South of the Grand Canal Linear Park? North of Camelback Road? Who knows? They’re not sayin’. They call this a Minor General Plan Amendment. Maybe it’s minor to them but it certainly is not minor to the thousands of Glendale residents who live in West Glendale and who do not want more apartments in the area…not 375 or 736 of them.

Their second application seeks to change the zoning designations of the entire 384 acres from R1-8 PRD (single family homes with a minimum lot size of 8,000 square feet; Commercial Office and General Commercial (remember there are no apartment units on the current zoning designations) to a PAD which is a Planned Area Development. Sounds Ok but it isn’t. A PAD grants generalities of a certain amount of acreage as single family density, multifamily density and commercial but allows the developer flexibility as to where these elements are placed. The Planning Department would approve the PAD through a Design Review Process but you and I would not know the particulars or what has been approved. Once the PAD zoning is approved we are excluded from the process.

The applicant is seeking an average of 4.63 dwelling units per acre on the 384 acres for a total of 1,777 units. Their projected population is 4,700 residents. I suspect that is a low ball figure. This proposal is far denser than any other subdivision in the nearby area.  Why seek that kind of density? When land is sold for development the price per acre is dependent on the zoning (and density) allowed on the land. The greater the entitled density the more expensive the land becomes and the more money the land owner makes. As a hypothetical, if the land were zoned for 3 homes per acre it might sell for $10,000 an acre. If the land were zoned for 20 units to the acre it might sell for $100,000 an acre. I am not opposed to the land owner making a profit when his land is sold but I am opposed to granting inappropriate densities that do harm to existent neighborhoods. That is exactly what the high densities that the applicant is seeking will do. The city has an obligation to protect existent neighborhoods and their quality of life and property values.

Interestingly enough, guess when the public meeting is scheduled? How about the Monday before Thanksgiving – you know that time of year when many people leave town to visit friends and family for the Thanksgiving holidays. Do you think this schedule was deliberate, designed to ensure that not many attend the public meeting? I do. By the way, the public meeting is:

Monday, November 25, 2013

6 PM

At Desert Mirage Elementary School Cafeteria

8605 W. Maryland Avenue

We need butts in seats for this meeting. We need to send a message, loud and clear that we do not support the applicant’s plans that directly affect our area. We also have petitions that you can circulate in your neighborhood. You do not have to be a registered voter to sign (these are not political petitions) and multiple persons from the same household may sign the petition. Email me at clarkjv@aol.com and I will email a petition to you. All petitions must be returned no later than Saturday, November 23, 2013.

Why is this a lousy plan for a great area in Glendale? Let me count the ways.

  1. There are many developments surrounding Westgate that have already been approved by the city (they are “entitled”). If I remember correctly those approved developments will yield another 4,000 apartment units. I am going to check with the Planning Department to corroborate this figure from my memory.
  2. North of Cabelas and in Westgate there are already nearly 2,000 apartment units combined. The Westgate units were approved as condos but when the economy went south they were redesignated and auctioned off – some for as little as $79,000 a unit. One of the multifamily complexes north of Cabelas was built as condo units and today they are apartments.
  3. The existing apartments plus the future apartments will allow for 6,000 units in West Glendale.  When is enough, enough? Now. It’s time to hold the line.
  4. Planting small homes (attached and detached) on small lots and dense apartment units will lower the property values and the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods – just to name a few, Camelback Park, Missouri Ranch and Missouri Estates.
  5. The 83rd Avenue corridor from Camelback Rd. to Northern Avenue has historically been the site of most of the large lot properties in West Glendale. There are streets north of Camelback Road like Orange, Montebello and Cavalier that have one acre, irrigated lots. Missouri Ranch and Missouri Estates subdivisions are large lot subdivisions. The Rovey Farm subdivision of 800+ homes was built with the smaller lots of 9,000 square feet on the 91st Avenue side and the large lot, gated communities on the 83rd Avenue side. South of Northern Avenue there is the Bonderosa enclave of large lot properties as well as  gated communities such as Casa de Esueno. The 83rd Avenue corridor is unique and should be preserved as it is the only such corridor in all of West Glendale.

Please send this blog link on to your friends and neighbors. Let them know how important this upcoming public meeting is for all of us. Let’s get butts in seats that night and petitions signed to send a strong signal to the city and the developer that this proposed development is not compatible with the surrounding area. Zoning at any price, especially a price too high to be paid by residents, is not the answer.

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those 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, democracy, 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 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.

Recently I received the article below as an email. I had forgotten about it until reminded. I just couldn’t resist offering it to you. Insiders say nothing has changed since this award was presented to Glendale in 2003 by the Arizona Press Club. I do know the former City Manager and the former Mayor wanted publicity about Glendale only to be “good.” Negativism or possible bad press was met with resistance. Information would be slow to come forth under a Freedom of Information request. If a media outlet reported something negative the former Mayor would often call to complain. It seems the “Brick Wall” has become taller over the years.

City receives Brick Wall from Arizona Press Club

By Rebecca I Allen | Posted: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 11:00 pm

The City of Glendale has a new award to display in City Hall, and if officials can not find space for it in the trophy case, they could always use it in the construction of the Cardinals stadium.

The Arizona Press Club awarded a Brick Wall Award to the City of Glendale at the club’s 79th annual awards banquet Saturday.

The highly uncoveted award recognizes the person or public agency that “has done the most to obfuscate, obstruct, distort or otherwise stand in the way of reporting the news.”

Press Club President Dennis Joyce, assistant managing editor at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, speaking before a crowd of 277 journalists, said while the category is never short of contestants, the judges were unable to choose between two “richly deserving institutions,” so it took the unusual step of awarding two bricks this year. The second brick went to the City of Chandler.

The Press Club cited Glendale’s onerous public records policy as one reason the fourth-largest city in the state received the award.

Glendale requires reporters to fill out Freedom of Information Act (FOIAs) on the most routine documents despite the 102-year old Arizona Public Records Law: “Public records and other matters in the custody of any officer shall be open to inspection by any person at all times during office hours.”

Glendale officials took 31 days to respond to a March 14 request to view 75 days worth of FOIAs and public records requests. Each time The Glendale Star inquired as to the status of viewing the information, the newspaper was told the request was in process.

Julie Frisoni, the City’s communications director, said the delays are because the City is “buried in public records requests.” She said all public records requests travel from the City Clerk’s office, to the department(s) that has the information, back to the City Clerk’s office, then the information is sent to the City Attorney’s office where a stockpile of filled requests wait for release. Public records requests from the media are also copied to Frisoni’s department.

“I understand it’s taking a little longer than the seven-day goal,” Frisoni, a former producer for Channel 12 who joined the City staff in August, said.

Most reporters acknowledge some extensive records requests take more time than others. In the eyes of the Press Club board members, seven business days for every public record request does not comply with “promptly” under Arizona law.

“The custodian of such records shall promptly furnish such copies, printouts or photographs” (ARS 39-121.03).

In December, The Glendale Star requested a copy of a one-page letter, sent from the City engineer to the contractor working on Foothills Park, from an engineering department employee who had the letter in their hand. The employee asked the reporter to put in a public records request with the City Clerk’s office. The reporter complied and it took four working days to have the letter released. Another request, filed March 31, asked for public records regarding the City’s response to complaints from JD Steel workers, a subcontractor of Coyotes Arena builder Perini. After 11 business days the information was made available.

Frisoni said the attorney’s office is taking each request as it comes in, so many requests that are filled and ready to be released linger in the stack until a more comprehensive request is filled. Frisoni said she has offered to help the City Attorney’s staff multi-task the requests.

While some requests lounge in limbo for his sign-off, others meet the white- out brush of City Attorney Rick Flaaen. Flaaen redacts all addresses, phone numbers and email addresses from public records, including sign-in sheets for public meetings and speaker cards filled out by citizens attending City Council meetings.

“People should not have to give up their privacy to participate in government,” Flaaen said.

Dan Barr, an attorney with Brown and Bain and the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, disagrees and said the City should not remove information voluntarily given by citizens.

Other Valley cities, including Peoria and Phoenix, do not redact that information.

In February, Flaaen said he advised the planning department to redact the addresses and phone numbers of people who attend neighborhood meetings held by developers as part of the City’s required citizen participation plans, and the addresses of Glendale residents who received developers’ notices of those public meetings. So far, the planning department has continued to make these public records available in its planning packets.

The Press Club board also received an email forwarded from a reporter at the Arizona Republic. Frisoni inadvertently copied her instructions for responding to the reporter’s information request, to other public information officers, to the reporter. In the email she wrote:

“I think it’s fine to answer some specific questions ? but for the specifics, he should fill out a specific FOI. I can’t imagine this story will be positive…”

Frisoni told board member Tom Zoellner that she was “shocked” by the award and said “the City of Glendale does not block information of any kind and in fact, hired a former journalist to improve communications with the media.”

© Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those 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, democracy, 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 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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