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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Every once in awhile I collect all of the rumors and speculation and offer them to you, the readers, as such.

It appears that public safety union representatives may have briefed their rank and file to the possibility that Glendale could declare bankruptcy within 18 months. Add to that City Manager Brenda Fischer may have raised the same prospect to employees a few months ago. Looks like everyone within the organization has been forewarned of it as a possibility. Everyone has been told but you, the Glendale taxpayer. Which begs the question: Why the rush to make the temporary sales tax permanent and possibly raise it if it will not stave off a possible bankruptcy declaration?

Also heard around the water cooler is council learned – for the first time — a few months ago when they requested information from staff on assets that could be refinanced, sold or leased, that former City Manager Ed Beasley had already done a lease back for the Public Training Facility. So strike the Public Safety Training Facility as a candidate for refinancing of its debt. As we are all finding out there was a lot that Beasley did not share with city council or the public. This appears to be another in a long list of omissions by Beasley. It also appears that the current council and senior management are not above keeping secrets as well.

Several asked regarding the Tindall blog, “Friday is supposed to be a slow news day…” and it is a fair question to ask: If Frisoni and Burdick were recipients of the infamous Tindall “informational” email about state tuition tax credits for schools, why did they not report the email upon receipt? Tindall used city email for what was evidently a personal purpose. Wouldn’t it have been incumbent upon them to report the violation? Why didn’t they? Was it because they were reluctant to turn in one of their buddies?

The Arizona Republic presented a timeline surrounding Tindall’s activities. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/community/glendale/articles/20140130glendale-city-attorney-email-timeline.html . It puts events in context and so it is offered here:

  • Jan. 23, 2013 — Then-City Attorney Tindall uses city e-mail to ask at least 40 people to contribute to his son’s private-school tuition.
  • March 26 — Glendale City Council formally selects the law firm Haralson, Miller, Pitt, Feldman & McAnally CQ to head an extensive audit of possible wrongdoing by city employees. Attorney Jose de Jesus Rivera, CQ who was one of the people Tindall e-mailed, leads the project.
  • April 1 — Tindall officially resigns as city attorney, with the provision that he receive full pay for six months for working up to five hours every pay period.
  • May 28 — National Hockey League executives announce Canadian businessmen George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc’s investment group as the preferred buyer for the Phoenix Coyotes.
  • July 2 — The City Council agrees to pay Gosbee and LeBlanc’s group $225million over 15 years to manage Jobing.com Arena.
  • July 30 —The Phoenix law firm Fennemore Craig announces that it has hired Tindall.
  • Aug. 5 — The NHL completes the sale of the Coyotes to Gosbee and LeBlanc’s group, IceArizona.
  • Aug. 20 — Tindall begins work as the Coyotes’ general counsel.
  • Aug. 21 — Glendale releases Rivera’s audit, which identifies several employees involved in wrongdoing, but spares Tindall.
  • Sept. 3 — Glendale hires former Peoria City Attorney Michael Bailey, who received Tindall’s e-mail on Jan. 23, to succeed Tindall as Glendale’s city attorney.
  • Oct. 1 — Tindall’s employment with Glendale officially ends.
  • Nov. 26 — Former City Councilman Phil Lieberman asks the state Bar to investigate Tindall for possible violations of ethics rules.
  • Dec. 20, 2013 — The Bar notifies Lieberman that it has launched an investigation.

Did you know Michael Bidwill is deliberately trashing Glendale? He thinks Glendale is “selfish” when it comes to hosting the Super Bowl. Why? Because the city hasn’t forced all Glendale hotels to join the NFL agreement to cap room rates. Really? What does he want Glendale to do? Hold a gun to hotel managers’ heads and say, “Join or else?” He knows that Glendale can ask and suggest but cannot make private companies bow to the will of the NFL. It must be embarrassing to him in front of other owners and execs in the NFL that he does not control everything but to trash the city for it is beyond ludicrous. I think we can assume that he is part of the reason that Glendale is not hosting any Super Bowl events. If he is trash talking Glendale publicly, my goodness, can you imagine what he is saying privately?

There’s more that comes across the transom but that’s enough for you to chew on for now. Try to enjoy your weekend!

© 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.

When a politician or someone of note has a story about him or her on a Friday, he or she should thank the news media profusely. The general thinking is that a story run on a Friday before a weekend when readers are preoccupied by weekend fun will be rapidly forgotten. It’s a ploy that has been used for years. This time it may not work as well as expected. This story will not fade away and will continue to smolder much like a hay fire burning itself out.

Paul Giblin and Craig Harris wrote a piece in the Friday, January 31, 2014 edition of the Arizona Republic relating possible ethics violations by former Glendale City Attorney Craig Tindall entitled “Ethics questions hit ex-Glendale city attorney.” It relates that Tindall attempted to solicit a state income tax credit for his son’s tuition at a private school. He used a city computer to do so. Reportedly he sent his solicitation to at least 40 people. They included:

  • Former City Manager Ed Beasley
  • Former Deputy City Manager Art Lynch
  • Fire Chief Mark Burdick
  • Current Interim Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni
  • Lobbyist Gary Husk (who recently received probation and community service from the court)
  • Chip Scutari, public relations
  • Lynne Greene, Renaissance Hotel General Manager
  • Peter Sullivan, University of Phoenix executive
  • Jim Foss, Jobing.com  executive
  • Attorney Aaron Cain, Fennemore Craig
  • Attorney Andrew Federhar, Fennemore Craig
  • Attorney Sharon Oscar, Fennemore Craig
  • Attorney Cathy Reece, Fennemore Craig
  • Attorney Sarah Strunk, Fennemore Craig
  • Attorney Christian Beams, Ryley Carlock & Applewhite
  • Attorney Michael Moberly, Ryley Carlock & Applewhite
  • Attorney William Wilder, Ryley Carlock & Applewhite
  • Attorney Former U.S. Rep. John Shadegg, Steptoe & Johnson
  • Attorney Jordan Rose, Rose Law Group
  • Attorney Nicholas Wood, Snell & Wilmer
  • Former Coyotes owner, Steve Ellman
  • Coyotes President Mike Nealy
  • John MacDonald and his wife, Dana Paschke, lobbyists for Glendale
  • Former U.S. Attorney for Arizona Jose de Jesus Rivera, Haralson, Miller, Pitt, Feldman & McAnally

Obviously this is not a complete list. Tindall contends that he was doing a public service by providing information about the state income tax credit for school tuition yet reportedly he happened to mention his son as a possible recipient several times in his “informational emailing.”

You should have problems with his actions if for no other reason than he used a city computer to send what was essentially a personal message/solicitation. One of the first “no-nos” that every city employee learns is that the city equipment, including use of a city computer is for city business only. Tindall and members of his staff taught city ethics to various employee groups and would be very conversant with this restriction.

Hackles should go up at the thought that his very selective recipient list included a lot of people with which Glendale did business. They were put in an awkward position. Would their non-responsiveness hurt them in securing further business from the city? Would their support garner them further business with the city?

Jose de Jesus Rivera, one of Tindall’s email recipients, just happened to secure the contract to conduct the external audit at a cost of over half a million dollars and in one Rivera email response even asked if the RFP for the contract had been released.  Hmmm.

Tindall’s questionable action serves to highlight the web of relationships within the City of Glendale before Ed Beasley’s retirement. Lynch, Burdick and Frisoni were all confidants of former City Manager Ed Beasley. Some of these people had no problem supporting Tindall in his quest to become Interim City Manager by trashing former Assistant City Manager Horatio Skeete who prevailed in securing the job.

It leads to another troubling issue regarding Tindall’s employment. From 2009 until IceArizona’s successful bid to secure the Jobing.com arena management contract Tindall was the city’s attorney. He was privy to the nuances of EVERY deal that came before the city. When he left city employ he spent a brief month at a private law firm before being hired as General Counsel for none other than…can you guess? IceArizona! Several people, including former Councilmember Phil Lieberman, have questioned whether his extensive insider knowledge led to the demise of the Greg Jamison bid and the success of IceArizona. Who knows? We may find out someday…but that “someday” could be just a smidge closer. Lieberman filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s office about the propriety of Tindall’s dual employment for several months continuing to advise the city while being employed by IceArizona. We will have to wait and see if it comes of anything but I’m not holding my breath on this one.

The media’s reporting of Tindall’s problematic judgment and self-serving actions brings into question everything he did, every decision that he made during his years as City Attorney. One that comes to mind is his decision to reject just enough voter ballots in the Goulette-Bohart contest for the Ocotillo council district seat resulting in Goulette’s victory. Or his decision to release the audit information about the city’s trust funds at the very same time he was vying to become Interim City Manager should give you pause. Or the extent of his involvement with pro-sales tax increase groups working to defeat the citizen initiative driven election to kill the temporary sales tax increase?

Tindall was viewed as smart, pleasant and competent by some but as the layers begin to fall away we may begin to see a different view…one not so smart, pleasant and competent.

I will be releasing another blog later today with some other interesting tidbits that have been passed on to me as well as the latest Bidwill blast.

I have posted a new, informal poll about Tindall to the left of this column and as usual, if you would like to know when my next blog is posted you can sign up via an email alert to the right of this column. 65% of the responses to my last poll regarding the health of Glendale’s finances said they did not believe that Glendale could straighten out its financial mess.

© 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.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 was the regular city council meeting…and I had choices, so many choices. Go to a Coyotes game vs. the LA Kings, watch the President’s State of the Union speech or watch the Glendale city council meeting. Hands down, no doubt about my choice. I chose to go to the game and what a game it was! It was the Coyotes of old. They played with consistency, passion and fire. They couldn’t help but win, 3-0, with that kind of play. It reminded me of the very first games I attended several years ago. I hope the Coyotes are back.

The council meeting had two hot topics: the purchase of a fire truck and the move to move public comment to the end of the meeting and limit speech from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.

The fire truck issue arose when Andy Evans, an attorney for Frank Leonard, owner of the country’s second largest vendor, spoke during Public Comment. Both gentlemen alleged that the city’s procurement process was flawed and that different specifications were provided to different vendors. The budget for the new fire truck was $425K yet the final purchase rose to $486K. Hmmm…something is rotten in Denmark. Did fire make sure a crony received the contract? City Manager Brenda Fischer pulled the item from the agenda and said she had questions. Based upon the information provided to her she would either bring the item back or start over. As City Manager she should have had information about this item and should have been prepared to share it with council.  At the very least she should have received the necessary information through a Fire Department Memorandum. Who is in charge?

The item that drew extensive comment was item #11 which would change the public comment to the end of the meeting and limit speaking time. The usual suspects spoke against the proposal: Ken Jones, Gary Livingston and the Marwicks. What was truly eye popping was Andrew Marwick’s attempt to explain why they reside in Phoenix yet speak at Glendale council meetings. Marwick’s premise was he had once lived in a city similar to Glendale with the same kinds of issues and that he was merely sharing the benefit of his knowledge from that previous situation with Glendale. His attempt to explain himself resulted in a rambling dissertation which was brought back to earth by the Mayor’s and the City Attorney’s admonishment to speak to the agenda item. If nothing else and I assure you there is nothing else…the Marwicks have a lot of chutzpah.

Whether Public Comment is at the start or at the end of the Council meeting is not a critical issue. Glendale has always invited public comment and televised it as well. Council has always listened respectfully to citizen comment…some more respectfully than others. The former Mayor Scruggs would roll her eyes and purse her lips, virtually sneer, when she disliked or disagreed with the comments being offered.

What should be of concern is this council’s move to limit free speech by cutting public comment from 5 minutes to 3 minutes. Not everyone is a polished speaker and should be allowed the time some need to get to their point. The only occasions when speaker time has ever been an issue in the past were related to discussions of Coyotes’ ownership deals over the years. The truncating of speaker time to 2 or 3 minutes made sense on those occasions especially when the comments were repetitious. Mayor Weiers made a good point when he said the mike and TV were very powerful…and they are. They provide citizens with an opportunity to gain a wider audience for their point of view.

Councilmembers Knaack, Martinez and Sherwood all expressed the general opinion that they were not taking anything away from the right to public comment while ignoring the fact that they were indeed LIMITING free speech. Weiers and Alvarez defended the current practice. Weiers said he would give speakers 10 minutes each if he could and Alvarez said there was a sense of a “power play” taking place. Councilmembers Hugh and Chavira were silent on the issue. The votes were done by roll call at the request of the Mayor. Councilmembers Sherwood, Knaack, Martinez and Chavira voted for moving public comment to the end of the meeting and limiting speech to 3 minutes. Mayor Weiers and Councilmembers Hugh and Alvarez voted to keep the practice. It is very difficult to put the genie back in the box after it has been freed. The four councilmembers who voted to do so, Sherwood, Knaack, Martinez and Chavira, could find that this move comes back to bite them.  However, with Martinez’ and Knaack’s retirement, it may only be an election issue for Sherwood and Chavira.

Item #21 was the affirmation of Vice Mayor Knaack to continue for another year as Vice Mayor. As expected Alvarez was the only “no” vote.

During the Council Comments which occurs at the end of the meeting Vice Mayor Knaack used her opportunity to try to rationalize her public comment about the sales tax increase when she said that the sunset provision was adopted to “make it more palatable to residents.” It demonstrates a very cynical attitude. I was the councilmember who offered and succeeded in getting the sunset provision adopted because I fully anticipated that council would adopt budgetary cuts in expenses every year leading up to the sunset. A budgetary cut plan was proposed by former Interim City Manager Horatio Skeete and I expected council to follow through. If council had followed through as proposed, by reducing the budget by several million dollars each and every year, this council would not be taking such radical steps this year. If some councilmembers such as Knaack accepted the sunset provision to make it more palatable to voters they might have been better served to voice their concerns about the provision at the time. Instead it was accepted with nary a comment. This is a major issue and council’s decision to make the sales tax increase permanent by removing the sunset clause with a simple council vote and their intent to raise the sales tax increase is a not right. It is a major violation of public trust.

Last up was Mayor Weiers who admitted that he had not done a good job working with his peers, councilmembers. He said he was working to rectify the situation by meeting with them one on one to find ways to help them to succeed. Good for him. It’s a practice long overdue. God knows it was never an agenda item for former Mayor Scruggs who believed in keeping all power to herself.

Reminder the next City Council Budget workshop is Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 9 AM to be followed with a regular council workshop at 1:30 PM on the same day.

My informal poll to the right of this column becomes even more relevant as council continues to shape next Fiscal Year’s budget. Also take the opportunity to sign up for email notices of upcoming additions to my blog. It is to the right of this column.

© 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.

The City of Glendale and the Arizona Host Committee have each submitted bills in the State Legislature to get the state to recompense entities for associated expenses. Here is the link to the story: http://www.azcentral.com/community/glendale/articles/20140116glendale-super-bowl-group-ask-funds.html?nclick_check=1 .

The bills differ from one another. Glendale’s is narrowly focused solely asking for support for public safety expenses incurred. The Host Committee bill is broader and asks for support in all areas related to hosting the Super Bowl.  My Daddy always said, “Ask for more and be happy with a little.” Glendale appears to be timid and perhaps would have been better served in supporting the Host Committee’s bill for there is more to hosting the Super Bowl than public safety expenses. Don’t overlook transportation heavily involved in any Super Bowl effort as well as sanitation, parks and recreation and marketing. So many city departments have a role to play in hosting an event such as this.

There is support in the legislature to pass some version of this concept. Something has to be done. At the last Super Bowl Glendale lost $2 million dollars. This time around it can ill afford to do so and if passage does not occur it may be the catalyst for its refusal to host in the future.

The legislature needs to step up to the plate on this one. Major events such as a Super Bowl, Barrett-Jackson or the TCP Golf Tournament attract visitors nationally and internationally. It cannot be denied that the entire state benefits from these events.

On another note, IceArizona’s Anthony LeBlanc hosted Mayor Weiers on a recent trip to Canada. Here’s what Glendale’s mayor did for grins and giggles. Expect to see Weiers sporting a Calgary Flames hockey jersey at a council meeting as the Flames beat the Coyotes.

In Calgary w @MayorWeiers and @seanchucalgary: loser of @phoenixcoyotes v @NHLFlames wears jersey at Council mtg! pic.twitter.com/nffikLUKJC

Calgary Weiers Jan 2014

Lastly, I submitted an application to serve on Glendale’s newly created citizen Planning Steering Committee that will shape the city’s next General Plan. Do you think I will be appointed to serve? Nahhh…

Check out my latest informal poll to the left of this column as well as your opportunity to sign up for future blog notices at the right of this column.

© 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.

Caitlin McGlade has an article in the January 25, 2014 edition of the Arizona Republic. The information she provided is old news – stale. Must be a slow news day and therefore a good day to bash Glendale again. I would imagine Coyotes fans are in a dither while Glendale’s citizens are just shaking their heads. There is no need to become hysterical – just yet.

The information used has been up on the Glendale website for quite some time and the numbers have not changed. Do not expect to see any new numbers until after January 31, 2014 when the December 2013 Arena Monthly Report and the first quarterly (Oct-Nov-Dec 2013) parking revenue numbers will be posted. Here are the numbers as they are presented on the city’s website today:   

  Fund ID     Amount  
Arena Event Operations

$247,457.06

Arena Special Revenue

$1,947,103.03

   
Account

Amount

Arena Annual   Rent

$326,712.33

Arena Base Team   Fees

$48,681.51

Arena Naming   Right Revenue

$60,000.00

Arena Parking   Fees

$18,835.49

Arena Parking   Rev-Hockey Games

$309,898.94

Arena Parking   Rev-NonHockey

$91,719.49

Arena Ticket   Surchg-Hockey

$896,393.39

Arena Ticket   Surchg-NonHockey

$194,861.88

No where could I find what the city has spent to date in capital improvements to the arena. I am sure the numbers are there — somewhere. It may be labeled as Arena Event Operations although that may be the costs of providing public safety or it could be the first quarterly payment of the capital improvement bill. It’s hard to tell.

The picture as it stands today is incomplete and no one will have a good idea of revenues and expenses until after the end of the current Fiscal Year, June 30, 2014. If the current trend holds it will not be a pretty picture for Glendale’s financial health.

Glendale must pay IceArizona $15 million dollars a year for arena management. It is smoke and mirrors. IceArizona has assigned its entire rights over to Fortress Lending and the National Hockey League and that $15M is the payment on the interest on the loans it has with both entities. IceArizona has become a “pass through” for the $15M. In this current Fiscal Year the council budgeted $6 million toward the arena management fee. The remaining $9 million to cover the management fee is to come from “enhanced revenues” produced by IceArizona. As you can see it doesn’t appear that IceArizona will produce the much needed $9 million. What about the supplemental ticket surcharge of $1.50? It appears that it will come in under $1 million for the Fiscal Year.

Under a generous scenario it looks like this:

  •      $15 million to be paid each year to IceArizona for management of arena
  •    -$  6 million in city budget to pay management fee  
  •      $ 9 million not in city budget to pay management fee
  •     -$ 4 million received from IceArizona as “enhanced revenue” (approx. estimate)
  •     -$ 1 million received from IceArizona from supplemental ticket surcharge (approx. estimate)
  •     $  4 million shortage of revenues not covered by city budget or receipt of revenues from IceArizona (approx. estimate)

These figures are estimates and we will have to wait until the final numbers are available. The estimated $4M shortage could end up being lower or higher. Where will the payment of the shortage come from? There is only one place – the city’s Contingency Fund (rainy day fund). No wonder there will be little to no money in Contingency this Fiscal Year (the year end estimate is approx. $800,000).

Two other financial debts associated with the arena are the construction bond payments of approx. $12 million a year and the obligation of the city to pay for capital improvements to the arena. This year it is a million dollars and in the next few following years it is half a million. Then it cycles up to a million followed by another couple of years at half a million. 

Immediately some will point to Camelback Ranch as the 800lb. gorilla and it is. Keep in mind that the city does not have to pay annual operating and maintenance costs for the facility. They are paid by the two teams: the Dodgers and White Sox. What the city does pay in the construction bond debt annually and that too, is a substantial payment of approximately $13 million. The sales tax generated which is very small in the scheme of things does go toward the bond debt. The only light at the end of this tunnel is that in the future, way in the future, the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA) has an obligation to reimburse Glendale for approximately 70% of the cost of constructing the facility.  In the meantime, it is another debt that Glendale can ill afford right now.

So, everyone take a deep breath, relax and wait until we have a complete picture of the numbers at the end of the Fiscal Year. 

There is a new poll to the left of this column asking if you believe that Glendale can straighten out its fiscal mess. To the upper right of this column you can sign up with your email address to subscribe to notifications of my upcoming blog post. Check them out!

© 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.

For those of you who do not live in Arizona let me extend my heartiest condolences for the lousy weather you are experiencing. Here, we have had no winter. Today it is 75 degrees and sunny. That is the forecast until the end of the month, another 10 days or so. All flora and fauna are confused. Plants are either in bud or blooming and the Koi think spring has arrived. If there is, by some miracle, a frost in February it will kill all of the tender new growth – not a good thing. Below is a photo that I took today, January 23, 2014.

pond in winter

Arizona Koi Pond in Winter

The water quality remains fantastic. We can see the Koi and right now we only feed them occasionally so they are out sucking up residual algae on the rocks. Here are some photos of the Koi feeding. I put a hula hoop in the pond and throw the food within the ring. The Koi are trained to go there to eat. The white stuff in the photos is the food. We call the black/white/red Koi, Yum Yum. He or she is as wide as long and eats everything in sight. We call the orange Koi, Silky. It has the most beautiful flowing fins. Both are the largest fish we have and are easily nearly 2 feet long and each weighs a couple of pounds. We still lose an occasional fish. I have decided that when any variable in the pond changes, the weakest ones are affected and die off. The ones that are left are very hardy little dudes.

Silky and Yum Yum 25 fish 

I spent the past two weeks reinforcing the grommets on our shade cloth cover for the pond. During the monsoon season we can get some pretty strong winds. They put a tremendous amount of strain on the weakest points on the shade cloth  — the grommet holes. I purchased some duck cloth (under $8) and used a flexible pellon fusible cloth ($5) that I ironed on the shade cloth. It is now ready for another season. Here is a photo of the reinforcement.

shade cloth reinforcement

Since the pond was constructed I have had to slog through the dirt edging the south side of the pond. A few weeks ago we finally installed pavers in that section. It looks and feels so much better. Here’s a photo of the new pavers.

Pavers

New pavers around the pond

Soon we will do a water change and trim and fertilize all of the water plants. When that is accomplished we will be ready for the Koi breeding season as the water warms up. I read somewhere that cotton string mop heads are good havens for fish eggs and fry. I plan to get a couple and test that theory.

© 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.

The January 21, 2014 afternoon city council workshop session was another “in and out” session. The agenda order was reversed to accommodate someone…probably Councilmembers Sherwood and Chavira as they left the session early.  There were 4 items: Public Comment; Selection of Vice Mayor; Annexation Policy; and the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report.

Councilmember Sherwood started the discussion on Public Comment at council meetings by suggesting that citizen comment be moved to the end of the meeting and that the comment period be reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes. You can see the coalition forming. Councilmembers Martinez, Chavira and Knaack agreed with Sherwood but Alvarez and Hugh dissented.  Citizen comments will be moved to the back of the bus once again and there will be less time to offer them. So much for encouraging public involvement.

Knaack was nominated by Martinez to continue to serve as Vice Mayor. Alvarez nominated Sherwood who immediately declined. Alvarez would have supported anyone but the one person she has clashed with continually and considers to be the devil incarnate – Knaack. The majority had no problem keeping Knaack as Vice Mayor for another year.

Annexation Policy was presented by Executive Director Jon Froke. After he presented council unanimously agreed to continue the policy as it currently exists with no changes. It apparently was too much for Alvarez to understand and she remained silent.

Executive Director Tom Duensing presented the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFRA). Eyes glazed over and Vice Mayor Knaack thanked him for bringing this item forward. She was reassured that the city’s finances are being reported properly by the current auditing firm. This must have been another topic too deep for Alvarez as once again she remained silent.

Under Council Items of Interest Councilmember Alvarez requested that the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA) be invited to present to council at workshop on the current status of Camelback Ranch. Won’t that be an interesting discussion!

In less than an hour…badda bing…workshop was over. Results?

  • Citizen comments moved to the end of council meetings.
  • Citizen comments reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.
  • Vice Mayor Yvonne Knaack will continue as the Vice Mayor for another year.
  • City’s annexation policy remains unchanged.
  • CAFRA finds no major financial faults in city’s financial reporting.

© 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.

On the morning of January 21, 2014 council began its first foray into budget discussions. Senior management consists of City Manager Brenda Fischer, who has been employed in Glendale for about 7 months; and Executive Director of Finance, Tom Duensing, whose time in Glendale is even less – about 4 months. Obviously there is little to no historical memory and that is not helpful. Did you notice that many strategy suggestions for addressing Glendale’s financial situation have been already used? There was nothing innovative or creative about the budget presentation made. Why? As Duensing said, “Glendale spends more than it brings in.”

For those who are interested in what’s happening to our money here is the schedule of upcoming budget workshops:

  • February 4     9 AM to noon
  • February 18   9 AM to noon
  • March 18       9 AM to noon
  • March 25       1:30 PM to 4:30 PM
  • April 8           9 AM to 5 PM
  • April 10         9 AM to 5 PM

There was a series of slides in this presentation and they can be found here: http://www.glendaleaz.com/Clerk/agendasandminutes/documents/012114BudgetWorkshop.pdf .

Where does your money go?

  • Personnel costs = 55% to 60%;
  • Supplies, Services and Capital Outlay = 15% to 20%;
  • Contractual Expenses = 20%;
  • and Contingency = 5%.

These are not hard percentages and Mr. Duensing did not have them available for the presentation.

What can be done about the debt? Apparently not much. There are no options available on the city’s debt payments for they were restructured in 2012. $10 million in capital lease payments could be prepaid if Glendale had the money to do so. The only suggestion to council and accepted by them was to make the interest rate on inter-fund loans variable rate. If you remember, $45 million was borrowed from the Landfill, Sanitation, Water& Sewer, IT Replacement and Vehicle Replacement Funds to cover $50 million paid to the NHL over 2 years to keep the arena open until a buyer for the team was found. Duensing said that by changing the interest rate paid back to these funds to a variable rate the General Fund will save $1.4 million the first year declining to $938,857 by the sixth year.

As for the city’s contingency fund, expediency ruled. Instead of council policy of reserving 10% of the General Fund it was reduced to 5% of the General Fund with no dissent from anyone on council.

Question. Why did no one ask for a historical look at the amount spent from Contingency over the last ten years? Instead of blindly accepting a subjective percentage it might have been better to peg the amount needed for the General Fund Contingency to a dollar figure. Maybe it’s only $2M a year or $4M a year. But, sadly, no one asked.

OK, dealing with the city’s debt will average an expenditure savings of approximately $1 million a year. That’s a far cry from the $17 million shortage projected for next fiscal year. That led council to look at other expenditure reductions in the form of alternate service delivery (read privatization). Keep in mind, Glendale employees, that every privatization of a servics comes at a cost…employee layoffs. Here’s a list of services under consideration:

  • Transit
  • Custodial
  • Parks & Median Maintenance
  • Libraries
  • Public Relations/Special Events
  • Web Site Management
  • Streets/Sweeping/Signals/Intersection Repair
  • Security
  • Recruitments
  • Sanitation
  • Landfill
  • Fleet Maintenance
  • Recreation/Civic Center Management
  • IT Applications Support
  • Payroll Processing
  • Risk Management
  • Plans Review
  • Arts
  • Training
  • Building Inspection
  • Engineering Review
  • IT Infrastructure Support
  • Business Licensing
  • Sales Tax Auditing
  • Glendale TV Channel 11
  • Cemetery
  • Facilities Management
  • Benefit Administration

Council was told that it will take some time to bring recommendations from senior staff back as to which of this smorgasbord of services will become a candidate for oblivion. There was council unaniminity on moving forward with this proposal. Even Councilmembers Hugh and Alvarez agreed to take a further look at the future staff proposals.

If expenditures are difficult to nonexistent to reduce then the next strategy is raising revenues. The euphemism for it is “revenue enhancements.” There are only 4 sources of income for the city:

  • local taxes = 52%;
  • State-Shared Revenue = 31%;
  • Fees, Licenses & Permits = 9%;
  • and “Other” = 8%. Typically, no one on council asked what the “other” consisted of.

Council had already approved increasing the Primary Property Tax Rate by 2% and they were asked to ratify their decision. They did unanimously. They cannot raise the Secondary Property Tax Rate because it currently satisfies the debt service on General Obligation Bonds. In other words they would not be able to make a case for that increase…Thank God.

That leaves the elephant in the room…the temporary sales tax increase. A majority of this council will make the temporary sales tax permanent and may even increase it. Each tenth of a percent earns the city an additional $3.4 million annually. Only Councilmembers Hugh and Alvarez demurred and wanted it to go to the voters.

There is a major question that no one on council asked…Why now? The temporary sales tax increase does not expire until June 31, 2017. There are several years to make this kind of decision. Oh, but if they wait until 2016, for instance, it will become the hot topic of the mayoral election of 2016. Kinda crass and cycnical…oops…it’s just politics.

After an hour and a half of presentation by senior staff and virtually no questions (there were a few but not meaningfully relevant) council agreed to:

  • change to a variable interest rate on interfund loans;
  • contingency was reduced to 5%;
  • council will adopt some form of privatization of service delivery which could result in employee layoffs;
  • your Primary Property Tax will increase by 2%;
  • and the temporary sales tax will become permanent and may even increase.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Glendale residents…you just received your long overdue Christmas presents.

© 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.

The Glendale City Council meeting of January 14, 2014 was a sleeper despite there being noteworthy items meriting at least some discussion by the councilmembers. At the start of the meeting once again we agonizingly had to listen to the likes of Andrew and Darcy Marwick and Bill Dempsky as they regurgitated their litany of sins committed by the city. The Marwicks love speaking at Glendale Council meetings probably because it’s a lot easier than trying to speak before their own city council in Phoenix. They seem to feed off of the recognition and adulation they receive from their small circle of like-minded folk. Bill Dempsky merely appears to be embittered about everything. Later in the meeting Vice Mayor Knaack would suggest that it is time to move citizen speakers back to the end of the line. She opined that their “shtick” is to continually bring up the past grievances.

There were 19 items on the entire agenda and half of them were on the Consent Agenda. Councilmember Alvarez pulled item 7, Position Reclassifications, from the Consent Agenda but when it came time to speak to the issue, there was no sound and fury. She offered a few tepid and irrelevant comments and then, true to form, voted “no” on the issue.

Council continued through the items polishing off 3 Bids and Contracts just as if they were Sherman marching through Georgia. The same fate befell 5 Ordinances with the exception of one.  When it came to item 17, granting community development fee waivers/rebates, Councilmember Hugh objected. He felt that it is an inappropriate strategy at a time when Glendale in under financial stress and he objected to yet another move that reduces council authority over city finances. Both Councilmembers Hugh and Alvarez voted “no.”

Not so surprisingly there was no council comment on the last item, allowing the city to rent parking spaces from Westgate to satisfy the parking requirements for the Super Bowl. Even more surprising was Alvarez’ silence on the issue.  She did not rant or rave about spending city money for a hated sports event. Unless I heard incorrectly, she even voted in the affirmative for this item.

This Tuesday, January 21, 2014 for those with strong constitutions, there will be two city council workshops. The first, at 9 AM, will be a discussion of General Fund Budget Balancing by the Executive Director of Financial Services, Tom Duensing. Council will be asked to provide direction. The bottom line is that he will reiterate the fact that the city faces average annual deficits of $14 million and when the temporary sales tax expires in 2017 that number bumps up to $30 million a year. He will offer 3 options that can be chosen separately or combined: debt restructuring (nothing new here, we did that just before I left); revenue enhancements (new taxes? Will council make the temporary sales tax permanent and raise the property tax?); and expense reductions (nothing new here either, we cumulatively cut expenses by 25% or more).

It will be an interesting discussion absent Mayor Weiers who is on a trip to Canada with IceArizona’s Anthony LeBlanc. Let’s see if LeBlanc and crew return the favor when Weiers stands for reelection in 2016. Expect to see campaign contributions for Weiers from Mr. LeBlanc and his friends.

If your eyes are not glassy and your mind hasn’t turned to mush after the morning session you can view the second workshop of the day at 1:30 PM. If you have Cox cable and live in Glendale it is on Channel 11. If you are Cox-less, you can go to www.glendaleaz.com and watch it live. The topics of the afternoon’s discussion are the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, an annexation policy update, selection of Vice Mayor and discussion of moving citizen comments to the end of the meeting. I guess the love affair with this pilot program is over.

It is disappointing that there is very little questioning or meaningful discussion by some members of this council. Some only offer comments by way of thanking staff for, essentially, doing their jobs. When it is offered so often it can become meaningless. It should be reserved for outstanding performance, above the requisite level of competence. Diversity of councilmembers is most welcome in the form of age, gender, ethnicity, etc. It is less welcome in terms of intelligence and basic understanding of the issues and there are some on council lacking those essential attributes…sigh. Nevertheless, they have offered their service and there is always another election season around the corner.

If you would like to weigh in to the left of this column is my latest informal poll. You can choose which of the councilmembers should become this year’s Vice Mayor. If you would like to be notified of my next blog posting you can subscribe in the space provided to the upper right of this column.

© 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.

Lately I was asked to tackle two issues: the homeless in Bonsall Park and the new security installed on the 4th floor of Glendale City Hall.

Homelessness is a complicated issue or it would have been resolved decades ago. The City of Phoenix has made a commitment to get every homeless veteran off the street. We all hope they succeed for it could be a strategic model for many other cities.

I moved to Glendale in 1968, 46 years ago. Our original Glendale home was close enough to Bonsall Park to allow our children to play there. They did frequently. Over the years, as the homeless population in the park grew it became unsafe to let our children go there. Just as there are “bad” people in the general population there are “bad” homeless people as well. I was once told by a professional who dealt with the homeless on a daily basis that the homeless generally fit into one of four categories: families with children, the chronic mentally ill, substance abusers and those who truly preferred the lifestyle of the street.

For cities it’s not an easy situation. It requires a balancing act, especially on public property such as a park. On the one hand, everyone is welcome to use a public park; on the other, it can be abused (and often is) in any number of ways by any demographic population – including the homeless population. Apparently that is what is occurring in Bonsall Park.

I appreciate the efforts of Pastor Craig Neuschwanger and others to minister to the homeless. It is the Christian thing to do but is Bonsall Park the right place? It certainly is not an appropriate place in which to sleep, a frequent occurrence in Bonsall Park. During my time on city council I received complaints about the actions of the homeless. The police and I worked hard to find safe shelter which was often refused. Therein lays the problem.

Providing dinner in the park acts as a magnet drawing even more homeless to the park as the word spreads. As more homeless congregate in the park it provides greater incentive for ministries to offer their services there. Over time, it becomes self-fulfilling cycle.

I don’t pretend to have the solution and I suspect Glendale does not either. I know that whatever steps are taken Glendale will act with sensitivity as it strives to find the right balance between keeping our parks open for everyone and keeping our parks clean and safe for all.

It was reported that new security measures have been installed on the 4th floor of Glendale’s City Hall. Who and what exactly resides on the 4th floor? As you get off the elevator the first set of offices are those of the City Council. Make a left, walk down the hallway and you will pass the Mayor’s Office, the City Manager’s Office, the City Attorney’s Office, the City Clerk’s Office and the Assistant City Managers’ Offices. At most maybe 60 people (that’s being generous) work on this floor. What was the cost of the new security? That hasn’t been revealed but we can probably assume somewhere in the $30,000 to $50,000 range.

The more important question is why? Several years ago Glendale installed security screening measures at all council workshops and meetings. One walks through a metal detector and one’s personal belongings are searched. It has become commonplace everywhere from airports to sporting events.

Unless the Glendale Police know something we don’t know Glendale has not had a major threat that warrants enhanced, “Katy bar the door” security on the 4th floor. Occasionally the city has had extra police officers on duty at some council meetings and nothing occurred. Were they a deterrent?  Perhaps. Was their presence enough or was there no severe threat to begin with?

Heightened security measures really took off in the wake of County Supervisor Wilcox being shot in her bum. A kind of rampant paranoia took over in nearly every Valley municipality. The thought became, “If it could happen there, it could happen here.” Although the passions of the citizenry sometimes ride high it has not resulted in serious, make the front page of the paper, safety incidents in Glendale. The citizens of Glendale tend to be a well mannered, polite bunch of folk.

Is it necessary? I don’t think so. Now, to get beyond 4th floor security one will have to be invited or have an appointment. Gone are the days when a citizen could drop by a councilmember’s office just to say “Hello” and chat. When I dropped by the City Clerk’s office to pick up FOIA material I had requested I would often stop by and chat with whomever was there and had some time to visit. Now, I can go to the sub-basement, thank you very much, to pick up material as I am now perceived as a threat. It makes policy makers, whether elected or senior management, more insulated from those they are charged with serving. We all have heard about the Washington, D.C. “bubble effect.” Does the city really need the “bubble effect” here?

Does it solve a problem? What exactly is the problem? If someone is bent on doing harm it can be accomplished the minute a person walks out of city hall or at any number of public venues. The city’s best intentions cannot protect from evil everywhere and all the time. Perhaps the dollars for 4th floor security are better spent providing a safe and secure environment at all of Glendale’s parks.

By the way, of those who have voted in my informal poll to the left of this column, 96% have said they would NOT hire Julie Frisoni as a permanent Assistant City Manager. To the right of this column there is an opportunity for you to sign up with your email address to receive notification every time I post a new blog. Nearly 100 extremely intelligent, discerning people have opted in…how about you?

© 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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