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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Early Primary Voting ballots will be mailed to voters at the end of July, 2014 and the primary voting locations will be open on August 29, 2014. Candidate season reaches a fevered pitch in July. I bet you have already received campaign mailings on behalf of either congressional, state or local candidates.

Recent petition signature verification by the courts shines a light on just how ill informed inexperienced candidates can be. It is a tried and true political tactic to challenge signatures. Sometimes it’s easier to try to knock a candidate out of the running by challenging signatures than running against him or her. Former Councilmember and Vice Mayor Tom Eggleston was a master of this particular art.

Petition signature gathering ranks as an elementary task for a city council candidate. He or she should at the very least, know the district boundaries of the council district they wish to represent. I am always surprised by candidates who get signatures from people who have a Glendale mailing address even though they live in another city. Simply put, if a candidate can’t be bothered to do his or her homework to recognize district boundaries and instead fills his or her petition sheets with signatures from folks with just a Glendale mailing address he or she doesn’t deserve a spot on the ballot. They will be pummeled by those candidates supported by the fire union, who provide their chosen candidates with complete walking lists of registered voters on each street within the district being covered. It is difficult enough for an experienced candidate to run against a fire union candidate. It is a daunting and unpleasant task for an inexperienced candidate.

Another very rudimentary act for the candidate is to check one’s petition signatures against registered voter lists. Inexperienced candidates will accept all signatures not bothering to verify that the signator is a registered voter in Glendale. I suppose they really think no one will check. Do they really think that a massive show of numbers will dazzle enough to overlook the legal validity of signatures?

This year the candidate crop in Glendale is vast. There are a few diamonds-in-the-rough among them and it is revealing to see that there are so many of them ready, willing and eager to change the current culture and vision. However, it is disappointing to see so many that are downright ill informed or completely uninformed about the real issues facing Glendale.

It is no secret that those running are quietly and surreptitiously vetted by City Hall. After all, a new crop of councilmembers can change the city hall equation in an instant. A candidate may be identified by someone in City Hall as sympathetic to the current City Hall agenda. That candidate will receive assistance in subtle, barely discernible ways. A candidate who is not in favor at City Hall will find that the city will keep a very close eye on his/her campaign and will be quick to put up road blocks…also subtle and barely discernible. Having run in 4 Glendale elections I have been a recipient of both kinds of treatment.

Then there’s the tremendous assistance that the Glendale Fire Union will provide to their identified candidates. Now, remember, that pesky federal Hatch Act. Local employees may not be involved in their community’s election, in any way, shape or form. The fire unions have developed a neat “work around.” Fire fighters from other Valley cities will contribute to the candidate’s campaign. Fire fighters from other Valley cities will walk for the candidate and work the polls on election day. Fire fighters from other Valley cities will put up the candidate’s campaign signs. Fire fighters from other Valley cities will form Political Action Committees, registered with the city, and then do “independent mailings” or “independent campaign signs” in support of their candidate. It’s a quid pro quo relationship. Next election cycle you will find Glendale fire fighters doing the same for their brothers in Peoria, Gilbert or Phoenix.

Be wary. The Glendale Fire Union’s agenda is just that…their agenda. Their agenda is to protect what they have in wages, benefits and work schedules and to get more. While that agenda is great for them and while they may tell you it is great for you — it may not be a great agenda for Glendale taxpayers…just remember that’s you and me. One more union thought. Always use this as a voter guide. Does my company give me the same level of benefits enjoyed by union fire fighters? At this time with the nation’s economy still struggling, probably not.

You may find it helpful to realize most voters don’t know the local issues in depth. You are not alone. So it is not surprising that the candidates often don’t know either. Look for candidates who ask questions and offer solutions. They may not have the benefit of insider city hall knowledge but at least they are willing to take their time to do their homework and to learn… and then to develop a position on an issue. Some candidates do nothing more than pander to the voter expressing a popular position assuming that it will produce votes.

One further caveat, reject any city council candidate who promises to “fix” local education. The Glendale city council has no authority over the curriculum, teachers or administrators of the myriad of school districts in Glendale. A councilmember may be asked, from time to time, to do something about traffic or parking adjacent to individual schools. That councilmember may or may not, be able to assist in such a circumstance. That is the sum total of city council involvement in local school issues.

Look for candidates who dress appropriately as a sign of respect for the office they seek. Look for candidates who have developed roots in Glendale. Look for candidates who can not only articulate their positions on issues but also put their positions out there for you to weigh. Having visited all the candidates who have websites I am surprised that quite a few of them do not use this venue to tell you, the voter, where they stand on a particular issue. They’ll put up their bios, ask for a donation or campaign help or provide a “Contact” link but they fail to tell you what their position is, for example, on the sales tax sunset issue, Glendale’s debt burden or the casino issue – three hot topics in Glendale right now.

I would suggest calling the candidate directly. Now is not the time to be shy. All of them should be pleased to have a conversation with you and to be given the opportunity to express their views. Please don’t feel as if you are intruding. Candidates welcome every opportunity to make connections to voters.

During the month of July as I discuss each candidate I will post publicly available phone numbers, websites and contact information. Use this information. Please don’t feel as if you are intruding. Candidates welcome every opportunity to make connections to voters. After all, it is candidate season…

© 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.

I had just finished writing this blog when I received 2 robo calls. The first one was from the Arizona Free Enterprise Club announcing it was seeking petition signatures to put the city council’s affirmative decision to eliminate the sunset provision of the temporary sales tax increase on the ballot. In the call they announced that they would be at the Foothills Recreation Center and the Glendale Main Library this weekend from 9 AM to 5 PM both days gathering signatures to get it on the ballot. I wish them success. I will make a special point of going to the Main Library this weekend to sign their petition.

The second robo call was several hours later and it was from the Glendale Fire Union urging people not to sign the petition and promising dire consequences if the sales tax increase is sunset in 2017. Everyone acknowledges that Glendale’s debt burden is unsustainable. Perhaps it would be more productive if the Fire Union got behind an effort to urge reduction of the city’s debt by selling some of its assets. It would make the entire sales tax sunset issue a moot point. 

The battle lines are drawn. Voters will be fed misinformation and exaggeration from both sides. They will have to wade through the claims and counter claims made until their eyes are crossed. Will voters decide to send a strong message of austerity to the city council or will they decide Glendale cannot continue to exist without a permanent sales tax increase? It looks like the voters of Glendale will be given the opportunity to ultimately decide the issue. Which side will be more successful in activating their voter base? It’s fair to say that the Sales Tax Sunset Elimination War is officially declared. Now…on to the rest of this blog.

The June 24, 2016 city council meeting had two major items not yet reviewed in my blog. One was the passage of Ordinance 2897 removing the sunset provision from the sales tax increase. The other was Ordinance 2899 eliminating city permitted events from the requirements of the city’s noise ordinance.

The elimination of noise provisions for city permitted events is a city-wide ordinance. If there is a city permitted event in Sahuaro Ranch Park, it applies. If there is a city permitted event at Arrowhead Mall, it applies. It does not affect just the residents adjacent to Westgate. It was approved unanimously by city council. Councilmember Chavira, representing west Glendale and the area of Westgate, had no qualms about throwing his residents under the Glendale bus. Perhaps it is time for the voters of his district to question his representation of them, their concerns and their interests.

Sam Allen, Code Compliance Director, also neatly side-stepped a question about the number of previous noise complaints in the Westgate area by saying he did not have that figure as noise complaints are handled by the police department. There were allusions by staff that neighborhoods would remain protected but no specifics as to how that would be accomplished.  Another question asked was how many events declined to locate in Glendale as a result of the city’s noise ordinance? That, too, was deftly ignored.

Ken Sturgis, a citizen commentator, said that he lived .8 of a mile away from Westgate and often heard Westgate event noise within his home. His neighbors heard it as well but felt that the city would do nothing about it. I live a mile away from Westgate and heard noise but not at the same level of intrusion that neighbors living closer to Westgate would have heard. So, in the name of flexibility and competiveness, all neighborhoods throughout Glendale have lost all protection from city permitted event noise. They will experience sound and fury…signifying nothing.

The other ordinance, passed on a 4 to 3 vote (with our usual 4, Knaack, Martinez, Sherwood and Chavira in the affirmative), was the elimination of the sunset provision of the sales tax increase. I was the councilmember who originally insisted it be a provision of the sales tax increase. I did not offer that stipulation on a whim. It was the only way I could support the increase. I trusted and relied upon my fellow councilmembers to keep their word. Little did I know that their acceptance of the sunset provision was done with fingers crossed behind their backs.

Barrel district council candidate Randy Miller spoke to the issue and said the two options, making the sales tax increase permanent or utilizing draconian cuts, were not the only options available. Mayor Weiers agreed and that was the basis of his “no” vote. Mr. Miller said there is always an Option 3 and crafting it should be the goal.

At the time of the passage of sales tax increase with the sunset provision senior staff offered a plan to gradually absorb the $25 million in the temporary sales tax increase by making incremental cuts of $5 million a year over a 5 year period. The first signal that council would not have the fortitude to make the necessary cuts over 5 years was when they could not even accept privatization of custodial maintenance of city buildings. That decision sent a message, loud and clear, to senior staff that making the necessary spending cuts over 5 years was a council non-starter.

I marvel at the city’s propensity and adroitness in propagandizing the issue.  Knowing that the Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) is currently circulating a petition to get the council’s vote for elimination of the sunset provision on the ballot, senior staff slipped in a new concept.  The sales tax increase will be reviewed during the budget process each year. Be careful what you wish for. It would be ironic indeed if, at the next budget discussions in the spring of 2015, council decided to raise the sales tax increase. After all, Councilmember Sherwood publicly stated that he believed it would be necessary.

The offer of sales tax increase review every year was strategically offered to mitigate the anger of Glendale voters should the AFEC be successful in getting the question on this fall’s ballot. The city will be holding out the hope that the increase has a chance of being reduced or going away in the future. Maybe after we’re all dead.

The city assertion flies in the face of the fact that the bond rating agencies are taking a close look and relying upon the elimination of the sunset provision to satisfy them. The bond rating agencies will again be very concerned about Glendale’s financial stability when they realize that now the sales tax increase stands an annual possibility of reduction or elimination. By adding this provision of annual review the stability that the bond rating agencies rely upon has been removed.

Another mitigation strategy that the city is already employing is on its website under Frequently Asked Questions about the elimination of the sunset provision. Here is the link:http://www.glendaleaz.com/documents/FAQEliminationofSunsetforTempTax062514.pdf .

The city’s message is that dire consequences will occur should the tax sunset in 2017. They used the same strategy years ago when a group of us nearly got the elimination of food sales tax on the ballot. The city prepared a slick pamphlet asking Glendale citizens to choose what cuts they would be willing to make. All choices were dire and it scared the voters. It worked that time and sadly, it may work this time.

If the Arizona Free Enterprise Club is successful in acquiring the requisite number of signatures to get the question on the fall ballot, don’t buy into scare tactics this time. It’s time for Glendale voters to send a direct message to council and senior management staff. That message is, live within your means. Don’t spend more than the city receives in revenue. If 22% of the budget is devoted to the debt burden, tell them it is their job to reduce the debt.

Which brings up the question, can Camelback Ranch, the Media Center, the Parking Garages, the Convention Center, the Civic Center or Jobing.com arena be sold? I’m not an attorney but I would say “yes.” Many years ago as a small business owner, my landlord sold the building in which I was a tenant. The new landlord and I could not come to mutually agreed terms. When my lease expired I did not renew. I left that location.

Glendale owns these buildings and has the right as landlord to sell them. Tenants in any of these sites would then have to negotiate new lease terms with the new landlord. Glendale may lose some money by selling at present market value but it would remove the debt and/or the O&M costs associated with the asset. Glendale must get its debt burden under control. Right now it is over 22%. It should be under 10%. If Glendale cannot afford these assets, selling them seems to be a prudent course of action.

There are those who will immediately say, we can’t do that. Instead, council direction should be given to the city attorney to make it happen. The city simply cannot continue down this unsustainable debt burden path forever.

There are those who will say, what’re you… nuts? The city can’t do that! It reminds me of something Councilmember Hugh said at this council meeting. He said, paraphrased, that the current council is fractured because its members do not share the same strategy for curing Glendale’s financial situation. Each side believes it has the better path and the right path to solve Glendale’s fiscal crisis.

I have no doubt that the councilmembers love this city. They demonstrate it daily by their service. Unfortunately, a majority believe the only solution is to tax the city out of its financial crisis. The minority believes that there are other choices, painful, yes… but other choices.

It has been my honor and a great privilege to have served as a Glendale councilmember for 16 years. I have lived in Glendale for nearly 50 years. I love this city. You love this city. It is our home. Placing a greater and greater tax burden on those who live in this home, is not prudent…and it sure isn’t the best way to grow Glendale.

© 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.

A retraction: In my June 19, 2014 blog entitled Politics is a rough sport I was factually incorrect when I said, ” I have not heard anything about Alvarez’ campaign manager Chuck Foy’s court filing questioning the residency of Jaime Aldama and Ron Kolb…yet.” Chuck Foy is campaign manager for Jaime Aldama, not Norma Alvarez. Foy is challenging Ron Kolb’s residency within the Ocotillo district on behalf of Aldama, Ocotillo district council candidate. Ron Kolb, another Ocotillo district council candidate, is challenging Michael Hernandez’ and Jaime Aldama’s residency within Ocotillo district.

With all of the law suits flying it’s like following a game of “where’s the pea?” It does get confusing. That’s is no excuse for getting the facts wrong and I extend an apology to Mr. Foy, Mr. Aldama and Ms. Alvarez .

I received a call from one of my readers regarding Mr. Aldama’s residency. I was directed to check the Maricopa County Assessor’s website and do a search on two addresses. The first search showed Mr. Aldama as the owner of:

144-01-363 – ALDAMA JAMIE/MONICA ANN

Property Address: 7326 W MARYLAND AVE GLENDALE, AZ 85303

The second search of a property address which Mr. Aldama claims as his current residence in the Ocotillo district lists the owner as:

143-27-594 – MENDEZ LUCIANO

Property Address: 7329 N 68TH DR GLENDALE, AZ 85303

There could be a simple explanation for all of this. Perhaps the Maryland house is now a rental property or has been sold and Mr. Aldama has purchased the 68th Drive property and the transactions have not yet been posted on the Assessor’s website. Who knows? That is what a judge will decide as a result of Mr. Kolb’s challenge.

This signals that this election year in Glendale is sure to be filled with intrigue, twists and turns…fodder for any political junkie.

© 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.

I have written about the proposed Tohono O’odham (TO) casino and its impact on Glendale too many times to count. The other day a thought occurred to me. We all know that Glendale is in a financial mess. Its debt burden has prevented the construction of so many much needed facilities such as a western branch library and has caused the cuts in service to residents’ quality of life.

We often hear Councilmember Alvarez complain about service cuts and the on-going lessening of basic infrastructure maintenance. Yet she is all too willing to support the construction of the proposed casino in the name of jobs. Realistically the job numbers touted by the TO are highly inflated and everyone seems to ignore the stipulation that 25% of them must go to Native Americans.

Has anyone considered the financial impacts to a city already struggling financially? I think not.

Several years ago senior Glendale staff presented a cursory assessment of the financial effects of the casino. It was made clear that a new water treatment facility would be required to service the intense demand for water that would be created by the casino and its ancillary uses.  The construction of such a water facility is upwards of $70 million. Who would pay for it? Certainly not the Tohono O’odham. The persons paying the construction bill would be water ratepayers through an increase in water rates.

Then there is the issue of public safety. While a TO reservation would have its own tribal police to handle issues within the reservation it would be Glendale’s police and fire that would respond outside the reservation boundaries. At the very least, Glendale taxpayers would have to bear the costs of an increase in personnel and could experience delayed response times.

Lastly there are transportation costs. Streets adjacent to the reservation may need improvement to handle the increased traffic that will occur 24/7. There may be a need for upgraded traffic signals, signage and upgrades to the city’s Intelligent Traffic System.

For all of those who support the coming of the TO casino, do you still want the casino if it means that you have to pay more for your water provided by the city?  For all of those who support the coming of the TO casino, do you still want the casino if it means that public safety response times get longer as Glendale’s public safety personnel deal with a major traffic accident on adjacent streets or respond to a heart attack victim on the reservation? For all of those who support the coming of the TO casino, do you still want the casino if it means that instead of resurfacing or improving your street the money is used to improve or maintain streets to accommodate the increased traffic adjacent to the reservation?

You know, of course, that because of reservation status, the TO pay no taxes of any kind – no federal taxes, no state taxes, no county taxes and no Glendale taxes. If you were counting on increased sales tax revenue from the casino to offset these new financial burdens to the city’s General Fund, you can forget it. It’s not going to happen.

There are those like Councilmember Sherwood that believe Glendale can negotiate reimbursement for its added financial burden to support the casino from the TO. Do you really think the TO will shell out $70 million for a new water treatment facility or pay the ongoing costs of an increase in public safety personnel or pay millions for new or upgraded street improvements?

Even if a deal is struck, how can you trust people who violated agreements and the trust of their sister Tribes or kept secret its purchase of land for 7 years? If they renege on any kind of agreement with Glendale how will those who have complained about the costs of law suits feel about yet another law suit to get the TO to honor an agreement with Glendale?  

Please don’t regurgitate that the TO are required to give a small portion (8%) of their revenue to non-profits throughout the state. That presupposes that the TO will give their entire portion to non-profits in Glendale and ignore those in the Tucson area (site of their real reservation). Not going to happen. None of that money can go to Glendale’s General Fund to offset the new financial demands created by the proposed casino.

For every action there is an equal reaction. It’s the age old law of unintended consequences. While you may support the proposed casino because it will “create jobs,” are you willing to place further financial burdens on a city already under financial stress? Are you willing “to put your money where your mouth is” and to pay more for your water, deal with longer public safety response times and watch your streets deteriorate even further? I’m not.

© 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 June 18, 2014 the court was to decide on the complaints filed by Candidate Gary Deardorff regarding enough valid petition signatures for his three opponents, Robert Petrone, Lauren Tomalchoff and Van DiCarlo to stay on the ballot. In speaking with Deardorff today he stated that he had withdrawn his complaints against all three.

Not so with Robert Petrone’s filing against Deardorff. That was decided. Deardorff can breathe a sigh of relief. His place on the ballot as a Cholla district candidate squeaked by with a margin of 2 good signatures.

It’s strange that Petrone challenged only Deardorff’s signatures. Could it be that Petrone has every reason to be nervous about Deardorff’s candidacy? It appears that Petrone considers Deardorff to be a real threat and he should be nervous. I bet Petrone is spitting nails in frustration right now because he couldn’t knock off Deardorff with a technicality.

I have not heard anything about Alvarez’ campaign manager Chuck Foy’s court filing questioning the residency of Jaime Aldama and Ron Kolb…yet.  Politics is a rough sport, not for the faint hearted. Stay tuned.

© 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.

It appears that Glendale cannot catch a break financially. Camelback Ranch opened in 2009 as the new Spring Training home of the Dodgers and White Sox at a cost to Glendale of $158 million: The ballpark cost $121 million, plus $37 million for off-site infrastructure. Glendale knew that reimbursement from the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA) would be a long time in coming but at least it knew that in the future it would be partially reimbursed for its investment (if I remember correctly, it was 70% of the cost) .

AZSTA utilized a 2000 voter approved tax on car and hotel rentals to pay for the construction of the University of Phoenix Stadium and various Spring Training facilities in addition to reserving a portion for youth sports. It issued bonds for stadium construction that are paid from the rental taxes.

On Tuesday, June 17, 2014 Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Dean Fink ruled that the car rental tax was unconstitutional because the tax was being used for what he determined were impermissible uses. Here is the link:  http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/consumer/call-12-for-action/2014/06/18/judge-strikes-rental-car-tax-stadiums/10723905/ .

There is a hotel industry suit waiting in the wings claiming that it’s tax is also unconstitutional. No doubt there will be an appeal of all rulings related to this issue so it may be at least a year or more until there is final resolution.

If the car rental industry and the hotel industry finally prevail Arizona will be forced to rebate all of the tax it collected to those industries. It will be an amount way, way north of $150 million. This action raises a host of questions. Will AZSTA come up with another taxing mechanism to replace the unconstitutional one? Will it take it to the voters for approval? Will it renege on its obligations? Will cities with new, spring training facilities be able to sue AZSTA for breach of contract if it fails to reimburse them? The implications of such a ruling, should it be upheld, are breath taking.

For Glendale it is not catastrophic in the short term because it knew AZSTA’s reimbursement was some time off. But, if AZSTA does not fulfill its obligation to reimburse Glendale and it is solely responsible for paying off the construction debt of approximately $17 million a year, it becomes another financial obligation that bond rating agencies will take into consideration when rating Glendale’s ability to pay its massive debt. This result, if not reversed on appeal, provides no light at the end of Glendale’s long and dark financial tunnel.

 © 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 workshop meeting of June 17, 2014 had only 2 items. One was the issue of restricted access to and from Northern Parkway at some intersections. The upshot of the subject was that there are no solutions on the horizon for fixing the problem. I bet that was not such good news for commercial activities adjacent to Northern Parkway like the World Wildlife Zoo. Its funny how Glendale can be so accommodating to some businesses and to others, it’s the “back of the hand.”

The second item was senior staff’s recommendation to amend Glendale’s Noise Ordinance, Chapter 25, Article V.  Currently special events and large events (attendance over 500 persons) are subject to this ordinance which has 3 provisions: a) noise should not be heard more than 125 feet from perimeter of event; b) noise should not be heard off premises between 10 PM and 7 AM; and c) every 2 1/2 hours there must be an intermission of 30 minutes. Simple, common sense provisions designed to protect adjacent neighborhoods, No?

There were 3 options given to council: 1. Exempt permitted events during the entire year; 2. Exempt permitted events between December 26, 2014 and February 2, 2015; and 3. Do not change anything. Staff’s recommendation was Option 1 for in the name of all that is holy, it would fulfill their quest for greater city “competitiveness and marketability.” More likely this code amendment is pandering to the big boys, Super Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, etc., chafing under Glendale’s current noise restrictions. I see Assistant City Manager Frisoni’s hand in this effort to accommodate them.

To bolster staff’s contention that Glendale must still be in the “horse and buggy” days, a chart was used showing the cities of Chandler, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe as permitting noise exemptions for city issued permitted events and special events.

Not one, not one bloody councilmember asked a single question. The first one should have been related to the cities chart that showed which permitted noise and that should have been, “How exactly does each city address the noise issue?” Yes, these cities may have granted noise exemptions but exactly what are they?

Senior staff went on to say that an applicant for an event would have to abide by the provisions of the city’s issuance of a special event permit. If you go online to the city’s website and enter “special event application” it will eventually direct you to Ordinance 2951, Article V, Large Special Events.  In that Article, the City protects its butt pretty well with indemnification, insurance and surety bonds. It also seemed pretty concerned about public safety and sanitation/garbage needs but not one single word about noise…not one. Again, not one single councilmember had the presence of mind to ask, “What noise requirements are included in the city permit process?” They would have been surprised to find there are none even though staff represented that there were noise requirements within the permit process that would have to be followed.

So council sat there like lumps on logs, never questioning anything and certainly not one displayed any sensitivity for the noise concerns of adjacent neighborhoods. They should have asked for the noise restrictions in other cities’ special event permit processes. But they didn’t. They should have asked for the noise restrictions in Glendale’s special event permit process. But they didn’t.

Instead we heard blather from the twins, Councilmembers Chavira and Sherwood who seem to vote in tandem these days. Chavira (representing west Glendale neighborhoods near Westgate) said the only option for Glendale was Option #1 without really saying why. Sherwood, in an attempt to be amusing, likened Glendale’s noise ordinance to an old, existent law that forbids putting “ice cream in one’s pocket.” Really?

This council threw adjacent Glendale neighborhoods under the “Glendale Bus”(someday when I am so inclined I will tell you more about the “Glendale Bus Club”) especially over 2,000 homes adjacent to Westgate, epicenter of special events in Glendale. I live a mile to the east of Westgate and there were times when even I heard the noise erupting from the Westgate area. My thought was always, OMG, what about those who live directly across the street from Westgate and the football stadium? If I could hear it, how badly were they affected by the noise? Sometimes, as councilmember, my question was answered as residents called me directly to complain. I had a direct phone number to the police officer in charge of the event and would call to let him know that the noise was getting out of hand. Thankfully, the officer was always able to get the event promoter to abate the noise.

At least I had the noise ordinance to back me up…now there will be nothing that residents can do when the noise is too loud or goes on too long. But that’s OK…those residents will hear the roar of the “Glendale Bus” as it runs over them.

© 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 June 12, 2014 Mike Kenny had an opinion piece in the Glendale Star entitled, Ring the alarm – city once again wants you to foot bill. Here is the link: http://www.glendalestar.com/opinion/editorials/ . Generally I do not agree with Mr. Kenny’s stance on many issues but this time I do.

One sentence stood out, This current city administration banks on two things for survival, and they’re both yours: money and apathy.” The current city council simply cannot stop itself from spending money, your money. The latest example of their inability to reign themselves in is the expenditure, one-time and on-going, for an electronic voting system to be used at 24 council meetings a year. Why? Because they want to assure that you are confused as to who might be the deciding vote on any hotly contested issue…and to relieve Councilmember Chavira’s stress level.

What if there’s not enough in the budget to cover their willingness to spend your money? Not a problem. They will just create a new tax or raise an existent tax. Need money to cover the construction debt and annual management fee for the arena of approximately $27 million a year or the construction debt on Camelback Ranch of $18 million a year?No problem. Just make the temporary sales tax increase permanent. Need money to raise employee salaries? No problem. Just create a new annual licensing fee of $20 on your alarm system or make sure Glendale charges the highest fee in the state for driving school as you try to avoid those points on your record.

Why are 4 councilmembers led by the nose by senior management? Simple, it’s the easier way for them because you, the taxpayer in Glendale, never object. It’s called apathy. I can remember when a bunch of us tried to repeal the sales tax on food. Senior management put together a slick piece of propaganda asking citizens to decide what service(s) to cut if the sales tax on food was eliminated. It was a scare tactic and it worked beautifully. Glendale voters bought city rhetoric.

This time we heard the same scare arguments, i.e., half of Glendale’s staff would be terminated; services would continue to be cut. Those arguments only hold true if citizens allow this council to continue to spend beyond the city’s means. If citizens had demanded council adopt a phased plan of $5 million in cuts per year for 5 years there would be no need for the temporary sales tax to become permanent. Instead it was easier for them to accept Finance Director Duensing’s demands that the temporary sales tax be made permanent now…not in 2017 when it was due to sunset…but now.

This council, with the exception of Mayor Jerry Weiers, has adopted a budget that is not balanced as required by state statute. The budget starts with a $2.7 million deficit. But that’s OK according to senior staff. The money can come from $5 million in Contingency. If Phoenix demands a payment of over $3 million this October, that’s OK too…just take it out of Contingency. But wait…there’s not enough in Contingency to cover both obligations. Well, that’s OK too…just take it out of the Unappropriated Fund Balance (just a slick, new name for what is basically another Contingency account). They play games with your money and by now, you are so confused you can’t figure out what is going on.

Because of citizen apathy you, the Glendale taxpayer, will continue to be “nickled and dimed” to death until you have no more nickels and dimes. What many fail to recognize is that it takes so few of you to have an effect on this council’s financial decisions. Because so few citizens object to anything at council meetings when 20 or 30 citizens show up and speak to an issue council’s sensitivity radar kicks into high gear. Yep. That’s all it takes… 20 or 30 speakers to object. Are there 20 or 30 Glendale residents ready to scream, “I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore?” or will citizen apathy allow this council to spend beyond your means?

© 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.

Tonight, June 10, 2014 at 6 PM in Glendale City Hall Council Chambers the city council will hear an appeal for a Conditional Use Permit by USA Pawn at the southeast corner of 67th Avenue and Bethany Home Road.

I urge the city council to DENY the siting of yet another pawn shop in south Glendale.

When a governmental agency allows the concentration of this type of use in one area of its city it is applying “negative zoning.” Negative Zoning is the permitting of property uses that affect property values and quality of life of adjacent neighborhoods.

Whether you live in the adjacent area or not, I encourage residents of Glendale to attend the council meeting tonight and to speak to the council during the public hearing on this item. Please let them know that yet another pawn shop within spitting distance of nearly a half dozen other pawn shops in south Glendale is not something our community wants or needs.

Tuesday, July 10     6 PM City Council meeting

Glendale City Council Chambers

5850 W. Glendale Avenue

One of my blog readers sent me the following article about Craig McCall, owner of USA Pawn. I thought it worthy of posting. It relates Mr. McCall’s activites within the pawn shop industry:

 Craig McCall of USA Pawn is a Las Vegas Pawnbroker who came into Arizona after selling his Las Vegas pawnshops to EZCorp in 2008 for 34.5 Million Dollars.  Please see the article below:

EZCORP Acquires Eleven Nevada Pawnshops

PRNewswire-FirstCall

AUSTIN, Texas Sep 5, 2008

EZCORP, Inc. (NASDAQ: EZPW) announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the assets of eleven pawnshops located in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada that operate under the Pawn Plus and ASAP Pawn brands. EZCORP will acquire approximately $6.6 million of pawn loans, $2.2 million of inventory, $1.2 million of auto title loans and all other operating assets at the eleven locations for a total purchase price of $34.5 million. Half of the purchase price will be paid with the issuance of EZCORP’s Class A Non-voting Common Stock and half in cash. The acquisition is expected to close by early November. EZCORP’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Joe Rotunda, stated, “We believe this is an excellent acquisition in a very good pawn market and will complement our existing four Las Vegas locations. These stores have an average pawn portfolio of roughly $600,000 per store, almost three times our chain average, and on a proforma basis, generated approximately $5.5 million of EBITDA during the last twelve months.

In our fiscal 2009, we expect these stores to contribute five to six cents in earnings per share.” Rotunda continued, “In conjunction with this acquisition, we are pleased to announce that Craig McCall, the seller, will be joining our team in a long term consulting capacity. Craig has done an excellent job in building this business in the Las Vegas market and we see Craig as a real asset to our company as we jointly fulfill the commitments he has made in developing this quality operation. Craig also will be our landlord at eight of these locations.”

EZCORP is primarily a lender or provider of credit services to individuals who do not have cash resources or access to credit to meet their short-term cash needs. In 294 U.S. EZPAWN and 30 Mexico Empeno Facil locations open on June 30, 2008, the Company offers non-recourse loans collateralized by tangible personal property, commonly known as pawn loans. At these locations, the Company also sells merchandise, primarily collateral forfeited from its pawn lending operations, to consumers looking for good value. In 461 EZMONEY locations and 71 EZPAWN locations open on June 30, 2008, the Company offers short-term non-collateralized loans, often referred to as payday loans, or fee based credit services to customers seeking loans.

This announcement contains certain forward-looking statements regarding the Company’s expected performance for future periods including, but not limited to, the completion and anticipated benefits of an acquisition and expected future earnings. Actual results for these periods may materially differ from these statements. Such forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties such as changing market conditions in the overall economy and the industry, consumer demand for the Company’s services and merchandise, changes in the regulatory environment, and other factors periodically discussed in the Company’s annual, quarterly and other reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. For additional information, contact Dan Tonissen at (512) 314-2289. First Call Analyst: FCMN Contact: Laura_Jones@ezcorp.com  

Mr McCall then opened 12 Arizona pawnshops and again sold them to EZCORP.  Please see article below.  

EZCORP Enters the High Potential Arizona Market

EZCORP has also completed the acquisition of 12 USA Pawn & Jewelry stores in Tucson  and  Bullhead City, Arizona.  This investment marks the Company’s initial move into  Arizona  and its key markets.  The Company intends to grow its presence over time into a market-leading provider of instant cash, by expanding its storefront position, supported by both online and mobile channels.  

USA  Pawn & Jewelry represents the second set of stores that the Company has purchased from owner  Craig McCall, who continues to consult with and assist the Company in executing its multi-market growth strategy. Mr. Rothamel stated, “The  Arizona  acquisition demonstrates our continued focus on growing and expanding our core pawn business.  Not only will the addition of these 12 successful stores enhance our profitability in the near-term, it will also provide us with a robust base from which to expand further, through in-fill opportunities and possible additional acquisitions.  Craig is an extremely talented pawn entrepreneur and operator, and we look forward to continuing our relationship to develop further growth opportunities.  

Mr. McCall is on his third set of Pawnshops for sale to EZ Corp  To make his future deal even sweeter Mr McCall along with EZCORP and Cash America,another large public company, spent a huge amount of money having the interest rates pushed to a unconscionable interest rate that will take effect this summer.  Please read legislative report below:

 HB2537 – pawnbrokers; interest; military members – DO PASS   In the Arizona legislature Vice-Chairman Shope moved that HB2537 do pass. Jason Theodorou, Majority Research Intern, advised that HB2537 increases the interest rate a pawnbroker can charge and requires pawnbrokers to waive any unpaid interest and hold pledged goods for military members and their spouses for 60 days after returning from active duty deployment (Attachment 18).  

Vice-Chairman Shope, sponsor, stated that the HB2537 has two components.  The first allows pawn brokers to raise interest rates.  The second is a military member component, which he is working on with Representative Sonny Borrelli. 

Craig McCall, USA Pawn and Jewelry, representing self, testified in support of HB2537.  He said that the pawn industry is unable to raise interest rates on its own and the Legislature has not reviewed the cap rate in 16 years.  Surrounding states have much higher interest rates, i.e. Colorado has a 20 percent monthly cap rate, Nevada at 13 percent and Idaho and Utah have no monthly rate caps with market rates at 15 to 25 percent.  Mr. McCall cited the following reasons for increased business expenses:   Rental costs Building size – the pawn industry holds a large amount of collateral Healthcare insurance; Labor intensive process – the average pawn loan is $80; Municipality requirements for technology – daily transaction downloads to the police departments  to have taken the place of payday loans.

Question was called on the motion that HB2537 do pass.  The motion carried by a roll call vote of 6-3-0-0 (Attachment 19).    Without objection, the meeting adjourned at 11:45 a.m.

People who borrow money from pawnbrokers may soon have to pay higher interest. Current law caps pawnshop interest at 8 percent a month for the first two months and 6 percent for every month afterwards. HB 2537 would raise the initial rate to 13 percent, with an 11 percent cap for the third and following months. HB 2537, which was approved by the Senate 22-8, does require pawnbrokers to waive unpaid interest charges and hold pledged goods for members of the military who are on active duty until 60 days after that person returns from deployment. It now goes to the governor.

To get a 80.00 Pawn Loan for a TV for 30 days now cost  $25.80 in fees  There is a $5.00 service charge, a $5.00 storage charge, a $3.00 police ticket fee and $12.80 in interest.  The APR on this loan is 400.04% 

But Mr. McCall  who takes in Millions flipping pawnshops wanted to burden the residents of Arizona even more with increases to this already insane rate.  This summer when rates increase this loan will cost an additional 8.00 or a whopping $33.80 interest on a $80.00, 30 day loan. This is over a 500% APR  

© 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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