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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

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About a month ago I was contacted by Robin Respaut, a reporter for Reuter’s News Agency. We sat down and had a face-to-face interview as a result. I also had several phone conversations with her. I asked to be alerted when her article was published. It was published on October 30, 2014. Here is the link and the full text of the article.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/30/us-usa-superbowl-glendale-insight-idUSKBN0IJ1GL20141030

 Bad bets take a big toll on the Super Bowl’s host city

By Robin Respaut

GLENDALE Ariz. Thu Oct 30, 2014 11:49am EDT  Reuters Edition

 (Reuters) – Welcome to the sports-crazy home of February’s Super Bowl.

Over the last decade or so, this city of 230,000 on Phoenix’s northwest border, has reinvented itself from farm town to sports Mecca. It has built the dome stadium where the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals play, the National Hockey League’s Arizona Coyotes arena, and the new baseball facility where the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox appear every spring for their pre-season training.

But Glendale’s love of sports has come at a cost: red ink and jobs lost. All told, said Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers, the town’s sports fetish has produced “a house of cards.”

And even the Super Bowl, the NFL’s annual championship extravaganza, will add to the pain. The game, and the partying that comes with it, will rake in hundreds of millions of dollars for Arizona. For Glendale? Another bill. This time because of the security costs.

A visitor to Glendale doesn’t have to look far to find evidence of its shattered dreams. At the edges of the sports district are vacant lots where there were supposed to be stores and other commercial developments that would generate taxes to pay off the debt taken on to build the sports facilities.

Glendale now spends over $40 million annually on sports-related expenses, including $15 million to manage the hockey arena, and about $25.5 million on debt service. The city’s general fund, the pool of tax money used to support city services like police and fire, has suffered big deficits.

It’s scorecard: Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services downgraded the city’s bonds three times since 2012. The Tax Foundation ranks the city’s sales tax, at 9 percent, as seventh highest in the nation, and Moody’s Investor Service says the direct debt burden is the largest among rated cities in Arizona.

Of course, Glendale’s problems aren’t uncommon. In 2010, professional sports facilities cost taxpayers roughly $10 billion more than what was typically reported – thanks, in part, to subsidies related to land and infrastructure, said Harvard professor Judith Grant Long.

But “Glendale is a particularly sad story,” said Holy Cross Professor Victor Matheson.

FOOL’S GOLD

In the 1950s, Glendale was citrus groves and cotton fields. Then came the housing boom. From 1990 to 2001, population soared 48 percent to nearly 215,000. The city had to beef up public services, but there wasn’t enough revenue-generating commercial development. “We had a mall and not much else,” said Elaine Scruggs, Glendale’s recently retired mayor of 20 years.

So when the Coyotes, in 2001, wanted to move from Phoenix proper and suggested Glendale, Scruggs pounced. The proposal included 1.6 million square feet of flashy new retail, dubbed Westgate City Center. To build the arena, the city agreed to float a $180 million bond with hopes the development would generate taxes to pay off the debt.

Before the ink was dry on that deal, Glendale was presented with another opportunity. In 2002, the Arizona Cardinals owner, Bill Bidwill, was also looking for a new home. The team targeted a site across the street from the future hockey arena. A stadium would lure more visitors to Westgate, which would mean more tax revenue — and, possibly, more development.

Mayor Scruggs couldn’t believe Glendale’s good fortune: “It was like a little kid who caught the fly ball,” she said.

By 2006, Glendale was hot stuff. The Cardinals stadium had just opened, and big name acts like the Rolling Stones were headlining.

And it was about to get better. The next year, Glendale announced its third venture: the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers were looking for a new pre-season training facility.

This time, Glendale joined with Phoenix to construct a 10,000-seat ballpark and 14 practice fields. A 10-minute drive from Westgate, the facility was located just over the Glendale border in Phoenix. But Glendale agreed to issue a $200 million bond if Phoenix pledged 80 percent of the tax revenue. The anticipated economic impact to the region amounted to $19 million per year. And a new retail complex, of course, would generate revenue to pay off the debt.

Glendale’s finances were in good shape. The general fund had completed 2006 with $72.5 million in its coffers. And the city’s operating budget was $46 million in the black. So the town fathers agreed to pave a road through the desert and waited for new business to arrive.

WELCOME TO THE NIGHTMARE

After the real estate crash, Glendale’s property values dropped by half. Property tax collections slumped by 40 percent in two years. And unemployment in the city eventually spiked to 10.2 percent in 2009 from 3.1 percent in 2007.

That wasn’t all.

The Coyotes hockey team filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009, triggering an NHL takeover. A year later, the land surrounding the new ballpark was foreclosed on without ever breaking ground. The Westgate developer also lost the property to foreclosure. Only a fraction of the proposed development had been built.

By 2012, the city was looking at $105 million in debt payments and not enough revenue to cover it: expenses of $289 million exceeded revenues by $59 million. “The city,” recalled city councillor Ian Hugh, “was sinking in its own debt.”

COYOTE UGLY

Town officials were also worried about losing the hockey team. After the NHL took over, the league asked the city to pay $25 million to manage the arena as it searched for an owner. Why cave in like that? Simple economics. If the Coyotes left, the city would be stuck with a largely empty arena. “This was the beginning of the city’s demise,” said former city councilor Joyce Clark.

In 2011, the city pulled $25 million fee from Glendale’s sanitation and landfill funds. When no owner was found by the second year, the NHL asked for another $25 million, which came from water, vehicles, technology replacement, and the general fund. “By the third year,” said Clark. “We were bleeding.” The general fund plummeted from a $66.4 million surplus in 2006 to a $26.7 million deficit in 2012.

To make up the difference, the city raised its sales tax by a third, cut 22 percent of its workforce, and, in a terrible irony, eliminated some youth sports like t-ball and flag football. Emergency Medical Service calls increased by 23 percent over a five-year period, but there were fewer workers to respond. And Glendale’s firefighters claimed 911 response times increased by two minutes.

Meanwhile, the NHL found a new owner, IceArizona, that would keep the team in Glendale. But there was a catch. The city had to pay $15 million a year in arena management fees, a cost equal to its entire parks, recreation, library and human services budget.

Glendale signed the deal, but the arena had already turned into a financial sinkhole. After dropping $50 million on NHL fees, Glendale still had an average $12.8 million in annual debt service related to building the arena. In return, the city earned back just $5.9 million during the first year in arena-tied revenues.

A WAY FORWARD?

Today, the city is preparing for the big game. The Super Bowl could bring in $500 million for Arizona, but Glendale budgeted a $2.1 million expense for security. State lawmakers have refused to help, some citing “an awesome display of fiscal mismanagement.”

Still, city officials say there’s hope. A new management team and the now-permanent sales tax increase has made Moody’s more optimistic. In September, the rating agency switched Glendale’s outlook to stable from negative.

The city is also trying to wean itself off sports. For example: A huge American Furniture Warehouse could generate $2.9 million for Glendale in its first year. In August, the city also blessed a $400 million casino resort.

Glendale won’t be on the hook for the casino’s costs and expects to receive an estimated $26 million over 20 years. Still, critics worry that the deal is another misstep. “Money going into the casino,” said Mayor Weiers, “isn’t going to the businesses that hung on by their fingernails to stay open.”

(Reporting by Robin Respaut; Editing by Hank Gilman)

 

Lately we’ve seen a rash of alleged campaign violations, from the use of a Hope for Hunger (a nonprofit agency) truck to a volunteer with the Glendale Fire Department going door-to-door handing out campaign literature. Complaints have been filed with the city of Glendale and other appropriate agencies.

In response to one of the alleged complaints Jim Brown, Glendale’s Director of Human Resources and Risk Management, on October 23, 2014 said, ““The City employee policy regarding political activities does not prevent an off-duty union member from participating in political activities on behalf of his/her union.”

Apparently he did not get (or did not read) the Memo from City Attorney Michael Bailey dated November 14, 2013. Mr. Bailey cites Glendale City Code, Section 2-75(b). Political activities and contributions from employees that says, “No employee, other than an elected official, shall engage in any political activity in a Glendale municipal election, except to sign a petition for nomination, to cast a vote, or express a private personal opinion.”

Some of the prohibited activities cited by Bailey are, distribution of campaign material or literature for a candidate or an issue involved in a city election and the posting or placing of campaign signs for a candidate or issue in a city election.  He says, “The ordinance (city) also reiterates the state statutory restriction on a city employee influencing other employees or seeking contributions of time or money for a political campaign.” He refers to the United States Supreme Court’s recognition that limitations on political activity serve the public interest of prevention of “a government work force from being employed to build a political machine.”

Nowhere in any of these specific prohibitions is there an exception carved out or an exemption for a local union’s participation in their municipality’s elections. Where is Mr. Brown’s authority to carve out an exemption for a local union member? Upon what legal authority did he base his opinion? We all would be interested in reading the legal opinion that he relies upon.

The Supreme Court, State of Arizona and City of Glendale prohibition from municipal employees participating in their municipal elections is the very reason Valley fire unions have developed a “work around” that has been used for years and years. That is why typically union employees from other cities will contribute money and volunteer to work an election in any city but their own. When the time comes, they, as pay back, will contribute to and work an election in a city from which they received previous help.

There is another and far more serious issue that is finally beginning to surface and that is the Glendale fire union’s political machine. For far too long members of Glendale’s senior management have been aware of the fire union’s political machine. For far too long they have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the Glendale fire union’s political activities and its inclination to skirt the edge of campaign law. Even Glendale’s Fire Chief Burdick does not have the muscle (or will) to control the demands and dictates of Glendale’s fire union.

Do not expect anything to change. After all, City Manager Brenda Fischer’s husband was (any may still be) a fire fighter in Henderson, Nevada. Other city employees have relatives who are Glendale fire fighters. It is any wonder that they would be sympathetic to the fire union and its objectives? If it takes political influence to achieve those objectives those who have the power to rein in fire’s political machine appear to have no will or desire to do so.

© 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 Tuesday, October 21, 2014 the Glendale city council held a workshop meeting. There were two agenda items: a review of the 4th quarter budget results (more about that later in another blog); and discussion of rescinding a March 2014 city council rejection of Becker billboards at Bell Road and the Loop 101.

You have to be a died-in-the-wool political junkie to appreciate the nuances of council discussion of the second item regarding Becker Billboards. When the issue was first rejected by city council it was on a vote of 5 to 2 with Sherwood and Alvarez being the only affirmative votes.  Keep in mind that Sherwood received over $1700 in political campaign donations from the Becker family and Alvarez received $2500 from Becker. Does that kind of money in a local, seemingly podunk, Glendale election buy not only access to these councilmembers but their advocacy?

When the request for rescinding of the original Becker billboard decision was made on Tuesday, October 7, 2014 Sherwood claimed to be making the request on behalf of Councilmember Chavira. Yet it was Sherwood who penned the letter on October 8, 2014 to the City Manager asking for council discussion and consideration. Apparently Sammy was doing his pal a favor by making the original request even though he was absent for the meeting and Sherwood read Sammy’s request. Everyone recognized that Sammy was trying to give Sherwood some cover. Didn’t work. Many acknowledge that it was Sherwood who rammed through the selection of Fischer as City Manager and that she owes him. No wonder it was on a workshop agenda two weeks later. Typically, staff does not move that fast and normally this would be a workshop agenda item a month or two after the request had been made.

Discussion of rescinding the original Becker billboard decision was extensive. Some councilmember comments stood out. Councilmember Martinez said, “some things will not go away” and the issue has “taken on a life of its own.” Councilmember Chavira tried to use the same rationale that Sherwood had used in the past when trying to explain his flip flop on his casino position.  Chavira claimed to not be fully informed when he originally voted to defeat the billboards and went on to say, “he likes to think he’s well informed about every decision he makes.” What a hoot – it seems pretty evident that Chavira takes his marching orders from Sherwood. Councilmember Alvarez chanted her usual mantra that north Glendale has all of the power in the city and gets all while south Glendale gets nothing. Same song, same verse. She was as much as saying that she was all too happy to stick it to north Glendale residents.

The argument that eventually prevailed was that of precedent. If council were to move forward and rescind their original denial of Becker billboards it would be the opening of Pandora’s box. It would put every council vote up to the possibility of rescission. It could even put past council votes on the arena management deal and the casino issue up for future reversal. It is that very thought that defeated Sherwood’s attempt to reverse council’s prior decision on billboards with Mayor Weiers, Vice Mayor Knaack and Councilmembers Martinez and Hugh indicating through consensus that they did not want to move forward and vote on a rescission. Sherwood failed but he was not finished.

City Attorney Bailey had opened another door during his disjointed remarks explaining procedure for such a rescission vote. He said that 3 councilmembers had the right to call for a special council meeting. Sherwood asked several specific questions about that procedure. Make no mistake – expect Sherwood, Chavira and Alvarez to request such a special meeting.

Why the desperation to get a revote on this issue? Sherwood faces two adverse actions that could impact his seat as a councilmember. One is the ongoing Attorney General’s investigation into allegations of open meeting law violations and the other is the current effort to recall him. Add to that Alvarez is standing for reelection on November 4, 2014 and she may, or may not, survive. With the outcomes of these two events in question it seems imperative that they make another run at the billboard issue before November 4th. It doesn’t leave them much time which makes their request for a special council meeting very attractive. The saga continues and will not conclude as long as Sherwood refuses to take a majority council ‘no’ as an answer.

© 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 frighteningly good time

Posted by Joyce Clark on October 21, 2014
Posted in City of Glendale  | Tagged With: , , , | 3 Comments

Image4I have known Bill and Gracie Tolmachoff for nearly 20 years. They are friends of mine.  They also happen to own and operate Tolmachoff Farms located on the west side of 75th Avenue, just south of Bethany Home Road (5726 N. 75th Avenue, Glendale, AZ 85303). Here’s the link:  www.tolmachoff-farms.com.

They embody the true spirit of entrepreneurship. They took a working farm barely making ends meet and while keeping it as a working farm added amenities that make it a major tourist attraction…not to mention theImage2 countless school field trips they host on a regular basis. This month, with Halloween soon upon us, they are also open on Friday and Saturday nights from 7 PM to 11 PM hosting their Field of Screams (www.azfieldofscreams.com ).

It’s a wonderful place for a family activity day. The kids can see and interact with farm animals, participate in farm related activities and go onImage3 farm related rides. You can go to their site for further information on times open, ticket pricing, events and discount coupons.

It’s also the very best place to get fresh produce in season. My family can attest to the corn, squash, canned jams/relishes and tomatoes consumed with gusto. There’s also fresh squash and about anything else you can eat that’s in season.

Tolmachoff Farms is a rare gem in the midst of an urban area. It’s well worth the trip for the whole family, especially the little ones. Halloween’s almost here. Why not plan to take the family to pick out that special pumpkin for carving the scariest face imaginable.

© 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 received the email below from a blog reader today. It is an email sent by a Glendale resident to the City Clerk, her assistant; Vice Mayor Knaack and Mayor Weiers. I have withheld the complainant’s name and address.

From: LSFlatau@q.com” <lsflatau@q.com> 

To: “Darcie McCracken”“<DMcCracken@GLENDALEAZ.com>, “Pam Hanna” <PHanna@GLENDALEAZ.com> Cc: “Yvonne Knaack” <YKnaack@GLENDALEAZ.com>, “Cindy Nossek” <CNossek@GLENDALEAZ.com>, mayorweiers@glendaleaz.com                    Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 9:57:24 AM                                                                                                                                     Subject: Glendale Fire Department Electioneering??

Good Morning Ms. Hanna/Ms. McCracken,  Last night, at approximately 5:30PM, I was approached by a young man in my driveway at 6107 W. Desert Cove Avenue.  He very specifically indicated that he was with the Glendale Fire Department, and was handing out election material for Bart Turner, who as you know is running for City Council in the Barrel District.  Upon further questioning he noted that he was a volunteer fireman and didn’t live in this district, and consequently his actions were permissible.   I realize that without the name of the individual that you cannot pursue him personally, but by mentioning the Glendale Fire Department specifically he has crossed an ethical and possibly legal ground.  I am quite certain that it is inappropriate to specifically identify the Glendale Fire Department as the agency campaigning for an individual running for City Council.  Attempting to influence an election by utilizing the power and prestige of the Fire Department just can’t be allowed.  I respectfully request that you immediately notify the City Manager and Fire Chief of this individual’s actions so that all City employees can be advised as to what is or isn’t appropriate during this election season.  Your prompt attention and reply to this matter is greatly appreciated.     

Respectfully, Larry S. Flatau  6107 W. Desert Cove Ave.

Glendale, AZ  

Will anything happen as a result of this citizen’s complaint to the city? Probably not…it’s the city, you know. More properly this complaint should be directed to the State and County Attorney General’s Offices and to the AZ Secretary of State and the Maricopa County Elections Department. If any reader witnesses what is believed to be a campaign violation those above are where any complaint should rightfully go…with a Cc to the City Manager of Glendale.

It is clear that a volunteer with the Glendale Fire Department was going door-to-door on October 20, 2014 handing out campaign literature for Barrel district candidate Bart Turner. He represented himself as being with the Glendale Fire Department. There may be a grey area in this scenario. He said he was a volunteer and not a paid employee. Does that make a difference? Maybe…maybe not.

This action leads to more questions. Was or is he the only fire department “volunteer” going door-to-door distributing campaign material for Turner? If there are others, are they all “volunteers” or are some paid fire employees “volunteering” their time? Did the individual in question have permission from someone within the fire department to use the department’s name?

What is even more interesting is the Glendale Fire Union’s full court press in support of candidate Turner. For many years John Holland was President of the Glendale Fire Union. It was common knowledge that he often personally managed the campaigns of candidates supported by the Fire Union. It is but one example of the extreme influence the Glendale fire union has historically had in Glendale elections. He once told me the union did regular polling of Glendale candidates. No doubt the union still performs that activity. As a result of recent fire union polling they may have discovered that their candidate Bart Turner is in trouble. If that were to be true, that would explain their redoubled, last minute effort on Turner’s behalf. The recent incidents of the use of the nonprofit Hope for Hunger truck to carry and place campaign signs for Turner; Glendale Historical Society (another nonprofit organization) members handing out Turner literature at Sahuaro Ranch (a city owned park); and now a self-identified Glendale Fire Department volunteer going door-to-door for Turner signal that fire is worried that their candidate may not win the Barrel seat.

All of these allegations place a cloud over Turner’s candidacy and should give every Barrel district voter pause. Barrel voters should be asking, why is fire working so hard to get Turner elected? Does their polling show Randy Miller in the lead? Fire’s actions should cause every Barrel district voter to choose Randy Miller as the new Barrel councilmember. Miller has the intellect, the willingness to research issue and the independence to make decisions that are in the best interests not only of Barrel district residents but all of 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.

After posting the infamous photo of a Hope for Hunger truck being used to haul campaign signs that have fire endorsing Barrel candidate Bart Turner, another incident was relayed to me. This time it involves members of Glendale’s Historical Society, another 501c3 nonprofit organization.  Mr. Turner is a member of this group but has been inactive for quite some time…until lately…it’s campaign season, ya know.

The Glendale Historical Society has a location at Sahuaro Ranch Park courtesy of the City of Glendale. Sahuaro Ranch Park is a city property. Apparently some members of the Historical Society were handing out campaign material for Mr. Turner. As in the case of the use of the Hope for Hunger truck for campaign sign deployment, members of the Glendale Historical Society cannot participate in an election or advocate for a candidate, especially on city property. The IRS clearly prohibits such activity and it puts a nonprofit’s organization in jeopardy.

It raises other questions. Someone from the city runs Sahuaro Ranch Park. Did that person give his or her blessing to this activity or merely look the other way? Who paid for the campaign literature that was handed out? Members of the Historical Society or Bart Turner’s campaign?

If it was members of the Historical Society that action becomes a double no-no. If it was Turner’s campaign he bears the ultimate responsibility for the action. It is the responsibility of each candidate to know campaign law and to follow the law.

Most probably the Historical society members were asked to pass out the campaign material or took it upon themselves to help a friend. There is no reason for them to know campaign law. However, candidates should know at least one essential no-no: contributions from corporations and nonprofits are not allowed. Ignorance in the eyes of the law is no excuse.

© 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.

image1a

This photo was sent to me within the hour by one of my blog readers. Take a good look. This afternoon these two gentlemen were seen putting up campaign signs and there are more in the bed of the truck. Do you see the logo on the truck? It is a Hope for Hunger truck. Hope for Hunger is a 501c3 non-profit corporation. It was started by and is run by Randy Rodriquez, a Glendale fire fighter. Make no mistake. It does good work in the community. It distributes food to thousands of people annually. It fills an extraordinary need.

So, what’s the problem? “Nonprofit corporations with a 501(c)(3) tax exemption cannot participate in or contribute money to political campaigns. If they do, the IRS can revoke their nonprofit status, and can assess a special excise tax against the organization and its managers.” (http://definitions.uslegal.com/n/non-profit-corporation/) In addition they cannot endorse candidates.

In other words, organizations described in section 501(c)(3) are prohibited from conducting political campaign activities to intervene in elections to public office. The Internal Revenue Service website elaborates upon this prohibition as follows:

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

Let’s for a minute assume the two gentlemen putting up a fire endorsement sign for Barrel district candidate Bart Turner are in no way connected to the 501c3 nonprofit, Hope for Hunger. There still remains the issue of the use of a nonprofit’s equipment, in this case a truck, for a political campaign.  It, instead of money, is an in-kind contribution. You can barely see but there are more campaign signs in the bed of the truck.

For years the Glendale fire union has been a major influence in political elections in Glendale. This time, someone may have crossed the line by using a nonprofit’s equipment for political purposes. That’s what’s wrong with this picture.

© 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.

From previous actions it appears that Councilmembers Sherwood and Chavira are in lockstep. There was another example of their tag team act at the city council workshop of October 7, 2014. Sammy was not in attendance. Could his job as a Phoenix firefighter be interfering with his attendance at council workshops and meetings?

As a favor for his best council friend, Sherwood, during Council Items of Special Interest and as a proxy for Sammy, reintroduced the infamous Becker Billboards but this is a Sherwood issue, not a Sammy issue. Becker Billboards’ attempt to obtain billboards at Bell Road and the Loop 101 was denied at a council meeting several months ago. Sherwood read Sammy’s request asking that the previous council decision be rescinded and Becker be granted the right to erect billboards by council vote at the October 28, 2014 city council meeting.

Sherwood and Chavira seem not to mind ignoring council guidelines when it suits them. Under the current Council Guidelines, when a councilmember, under Council Items of Special Interest, asks that an item be studied by staff and a presentation on the issue be made to council at a workshop within 60 days. They requested a circumvention of that process and that it immediately be brought to a council voting meeting in 2 weeks.

Councilmember Martinez reviewed the process for a Council Item of Special Interest and pointed out that the item first has to go to a council workshop meeting. He requested the item be reviewed at a future council workshop. City Manager Fischer, an ally of Sherwood’s, immediately placed the billboard issue on the agenda of the next council workshop this coming Tuesday, October 21, 2014.

Do Sherwood and Chavira have the votes to overturn the previous council decision on Becker Billboards? They can probably count on Alvarez. She received a hefty, and I mean really hefty, campaign contribution ($2,500) from Becker. So there are three that will support a reversal. Who’s the fourth? Take your pick…the most likely candidates are Councilmember Ian Hugh or Mayor Jerry Weiers.

Councilmember Martinez is concerned and has every right to be. The residents of the Cholla and Sahuaro districts fought the good fight and thought they had prevailed and there would be no billboards. They are probably angry and very frustrated at this latest turn of events and they have every right to be. Councilmember Martinez issued a special blast electronic alert to the residents of Cholla. Do not expect Councilmember Sherwood to do the same. The fewer people in his district who know about his latest effort, the happier he will be.  Here is the text of Councilmember Martinez’ special alert:

“CALL TO ACTION – October 21, 2014 Council Workshop: Palm Canyon Billboards

“Dear Cholla Residents,

“Under the Glendale City Council Guidelines, Item #2, it addresses Placing Items of Special Interest on a Council Workshop Agenda.

“ ‘City Council Workshop Items of Special Interest’ is listed on every Workshop agenda. This item will be a standing item and will be placed last on the Workshop agenda.

“At the October 7, 2014, Council Workshop, Councilmember Sherwood spoke for an absent Councilmember who wanted the Palm Canyon Billboards to be considered at the October 27th Council meeting (it is actually Oct 28th) on rescinding the previous denial based on recent information on the Becker Boards case at Loop 101 and Bell Road, and that if the rescission is voted successful, to immediately – at the same Council meeting on October 27th (28th) – vote on approving the billboards request of Becker Boards and direct staff to notify all parties as required by law at the expense of the applicant.

“Subsequent to this Workshop our City Attorney, Michael Bailey, sent an email to Mayor and Council that this item will be scheduled for work session on October 21, 2014. At that work session, staff will advise the Council of the necessary procedural steps (rescission and reconsideration) to address the issue. At that time, if the Council desires to move forward on the issue, they may direct staff to then place the item on the November 24th Council meeting agenda.

“This item has been scheduled for the October 21st City Council Workshop at 1:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers, at the Glendale Municipal Office Complex at 5850 West Glendale Avenue. Though the City Council does not take public comment at this meeting, your presence and that of your neighbors is a crucial opportunity to show your opposition.

“Please feel free to call me at (623) 561-8263 or email me at mmartinez@glendaleaz.com if you have any questions. Thank you for your support.”

Those of you who supported a defeat of the billboard issue last time, please take note and plan to attend this Tuesday’s workshop. Once again, you must send a strong message to members of this council that there is no support in our community for the Sherwood/Chavira Becker Billboard action.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

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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.

Sadly, real life should not be played like a Monopoly game although it often is, especially in politics. Horse trading deals seem to be a way of life for many politicians.  Councilmember Gary Sherwood penned a My Turn article entitled, Barrett is wrong, Franks is right: Casino means trouble for the Arizona Republic on April 20, 2013. Eighteen months ago he said:

    •  “Tohono O’odham’s massive casino is too close to residences and schools.”
    • “It denies tens of million (sic) of dollars of future development, construction and sales-tax revenues to our state and local community.”
    • “The casino will have a massive impact on Glendale’s already overwhelmed infrastructure – our police and fire departments and our roads — forever.”
    • “Crime is already up. Does anyone believe that putting a mega-casino in a neighborhood will improve the situation?”
    • “Franks is doing the right thing, and he is not alone.”
    • “The tribe has disregarded our city’s well-being and wishes for years. Now we should simply trust them?”
    • “Sadly, the Tohono O’odham Nation deliberately misled the public and even other tribal nations about this project and their casino-expansion plans for years. What kind of community leaders would willingly welcome such an unwelcome kind of neighbor?”                           

What caused Sherwood to do his flip-flop? Eighteen months ago Gary Sherwood was opposed to the Tohono O’odham casino. Sherwood has been asked repeatedly why he changed from anti-casino to pro-casino. His answers have been all over the place from, I was misinformed by others to Glendale staffers didn’t do their homework.

On September 17, 2014 Gary Sherwood testified at the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. In his testimony he said, “I was stunned to learn that the prior Glendale administration had failed to make any effort to learn more about this proposal before it rushed to oppose it.” When questioned further by Senator McCain on his change of stance he said, “Umm, when I campaigned I had campaigned against this proposed based on information I had and I had read deal…quite a bit of information on it. Umm, the thing that was distressing to me though, that in the very beginning there was a half hour conversation when the city first found out about it in April of 2009 and that was the only conversation the previous administration had and I was, was always quite upset by the fact that we didn’t have the dialogue.” His reasons for changing his position are not only weak but mainly fantasy.

The city first learned of the casino project in January of 2009 when the TO simultaneously issued a press release and appeared at City Hall to reveal their plans. City staffers tried mightily at several subsequent meetings to get meaningful information from the Tohono O’odham about their plans. The TO repeatedly offered their conceptual plans but offered no concrete facts about their proposed project.  They were arrogant and their position was that they were coming and there was nothing the city could do. If Sherwood couldn’t get the date correct about Glendale’s learning of the TO’s plans, how many other statements of his that day played fast and loose with the facts?

His reasons for doing a 180 on his casino position should not be considered as satisfactory. Sherwood’s position remained opposed until the fall of 2013 when at several city council workshops he suddenly supported Alvarez, Hugh and Chavira in their call for “dialogue” with the Tohono O’odham. What other dynamic could have occurred?

Gary Sherwood and Sammy Chavira took office as councilmembers in January of 2013. Sammy ran on his opposition to the casino deals that had been presented to the city prior to his taking office. He said in an October, 2013 campaign mailing, ““Too many sweetheart arena deals for out-of-state corporations have left us deeply in debt.” Sammy outdid himself in supporting not just an out-of-state corporation sweetheart arena deal but out-of-country owners (mostly Canadian) sweetheart deal. He was opposed to any proposed casino deal. He went on to say publicly and repeatedly, “The city needs to be a tough negotiator, making smart planning decisions that preserve Glendale’s future.” Sammy, while running, was in no mood to accept any Coyotes deal. Inexplicably, after 6 months in office he becomes the 4th (and majority) vote to accept the IceArizona deal. Sherwood becomes the 4th councilmember (a majority) to support a dialogue with the TO after 8 months into his term. Coincidence? You must decide for yourselves. Did these councilmembers play a game of Monopoly?

© 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.

Ever since the news of Andrew Barroway’s purchase of a 51% interest in the Coyotes (expected to be ratified by the NHL’s Board of Governors) there have been questions about the original management agreement between IceArizona and the City of Glendale.

One of the questions that surfaced was would there be an opportunity to renegotiate the agreement. In reading the contract there does not appear such an opportunity.  Technically Barroway is becoming the majority owner of the team and for now the arena manager remains the same.

The arena manager is responsible for the operation of the arena and for leasing space to the team. The issue is addressed in Section 5. Demise of Arena and Use Rights. In 5.1, Demise of the Arena it states, “The City hereby demises and lets to the Arena Manager, and the Arena Manager hereby takes and leases from the City, effective on the Closing Date, for the Term and upon the provisions (i) The Arena Facility…” In Section 5.2, Grant Use of Rights, it says, “In addition to the rights granted by the City to the Arena Manager in the other provisions of this Agreement, the City hereby grants to the Arena Manager, and approves the right of the Arena Manager to grant to the Team Owner, during the Term, the exclusive right and obligation to use and occupy the Hockey Event Spaces…”

In Section 6.2., Sublease of Exclusive Team Spaces, it says, “The Team Manager hereby subleases the Exclusive Team Spaces to the Team Owner…”  The team is a subtenant of the arena. We know that Barroway is securing a 51% interest in the team but we do not know if he is also acquiring a majority interest in the arena management company.

Even if Barroway became a majority owner of the arena management company in Section 4.2.3, Arena Sub-Manager, “The Arena Manager may, from time to time, delegate all or a portion of its duties and responsibilities to an Arena Sub-Manager…” There is no provision that I can find whereby a change in team ownership requires a renegotiation of the lease since: (1) the lease is with the arena management company and (2) the arena management company can sub-lease to an arena sub-manager without city approval as long as all duties and responsibilities continue to be met satisfactorily.

The other question that has been raised is the city’s ability to audit. A little background is in order. Under the team ownership of Ellman and Moyes the city received financial reports but had to accept them without any corroboration. This eventually became problematical for the city. City Council wanted a mechanism whereby it could verify what the arena manager was reporting in terms of revenues and costs associated with the arena’s management and operation. Hence Section 8.16, Financial Reports and Section 8.17, Audits were incorporated into the agreement. Financial reports must be submitted to the city monthly, quarterly and annually. To ensure the veracity of the reports submitted, in Section 8.17.1, “The City shall have the right to conduct an independent audit of the management and operation of the Arena (or any part thereof) and the Account Records (or any part thereof) and the Team Owner Records (or any part thereof) by City Staff or by an independent certified public accounting firm selected by the City.” This section clearly grants the city the right to audit not just arena manager financial records but financial records of the team as well.

Keep in mind that this agreement was devised by attorneys and as a result, their interpretations of the terms can vary. That’s how they earn their fees…by arguing exactly what a term or provision of a contract actually means. They could argue how many gnats are on the head of a pin.  

As a result you can be sure that every sentence within the agreement can be disputed and argued by attorneys. On the face of it, it appears the city has no legal right to renegotiate the management agreement with IceArizona. IceArizona would have to agree to do so voluntarily and that’s not going to happen. However, the city does have a legal right to audit manager and team financial records and to thereby confirm the revenues and expenses that are reported to it.

© 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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