Header image alt text

Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

It has been 17 years and 88 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Please note: Before discussing the city council workshop meeting of Tuesday, March 24, 2015 I wanted to alert you to a very important series of meetings.  The first was on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at Glendale’s Civic Center. By law every ten years every city must revisit and update their General Plan. This effort is called Envision 2040. The city website says, Every city and county in Arizona is required by state law to prepare and maintain a planning document called a general plan. A general plan is designed to serve as the jurisdiction’s ‘constitution’ or ‘blueprint’ for future decisions concerning land use and resource conservation. All specific plans, subdivisions, public works projects, and zoning decisions must be consistent with the City’s General Plan.” I encourage you to take the time to attend one of 6 district meetings that will be held on this topic and to offer your opinion on what Glendale should become in the future.

Now on to the workshop. Here is the link to the slides used during various staff presentations: Budget Workshop Powerpoint .

It was a full agenda: Budget strategy, property taxation, human resources (employee salaries and benefits); review of FY16-25 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), review of General Fund Sub-Funds Restructure.

Since the last blog dealt with the Capital Improvement Plan, a follow up is in order. During the staff presentation Mr. Freidline, Public Works Director, stated the number of parking spaces planned is 4,000 at a cost of $14,000 to $16,000 per parking space. At $14,000 per space the bill is $56 million dollars. At the high end of $16,000 per space the bill is $64 million dollars. Who is smoking what when staff allocates $46 million dollars over three years in the CIP? Councilmember Bart Turner has proven himself to be the most effective of all councilmembers. He is articulate, asks the right questions and since the beginning of his service has proposed several very effective actions. The rest of council…not so much.

Mayor Weiers and Vice Mayor Hugh are generally silent; Councilmembers Aldama and Chavira are the Bobsey Twins of the “thank you;” Councilmember Sherwood only speaks when an item aligns with his personal agenda; and Councilmember Tolmachoff’s questions tend to be irrelevant. Keep an eye on Councilmember Turner. His reasoned approach to issues will serve him and the citizens of Glendale well.

In fact, it was Councilmember Turner who said, “The Westgate parking garage is the elephant in the room.” It is that and more. One item never mentioned during this discussion is the AZSTA/Cardinals/Glendale agreement and the stipulation that requires the city to build the parking garage and what exactly triggers that obligation. The public wants to know. It’s strange. The city website has posted all kinds of contracts online going back to at least 2000 but not this one from 2002. Why isn’t it available publicly?

Among other questions, Councilmember Turner asked if the city will build another Taj Mahal immediately or if the garage could be built in phases. He also asked for the number of spaces currently available to the city to meet its agreement requirement and also inquired as to how new development in the Westgate area will impact (and perhaps improve) parking availability. Good questions. They demand answers before this council approves the CIP with the Westgate parking garage for $46 million dollars.

Another CIP item to appear before council was an amount not to exceed $500,000 for an automated library book dispenser. It would be placed in Hero’s Park in the now abandoned skateboard concession stand. The funds would be used to purchase the dispenser, retrofit the concession area and add more of those pesky, costly parking spaces. Mr. Strunk, Director of Parks, Recreation and Library Services, stated that this dispenser is not intended to replace the over arching need for a library in West Glendale.  Clearly it is not. The largest dispenser available can only hold 3,800 books. Wasn’t there dismay in the library community when there was the possibility of downgrading Foothills library to a collection of 35,000 books? The dispenser will only accommodate 1/10 of a Foothills collection. Mr. Struck did not speak to the manpower that will be needed to service this dispenser. After all, someone will need to gather up the books and transport them to the dispenser as well as picking up returned books daily. As Mayor Weiers observed there is also the issue of security. The location is very dark and very lonely. Maybe they can install a half dozen strobe lights…Or a large, very tall, well lit digital billboard would work well too (courtesy of DM).

Why has the stop gap proposal of a library book dispenser popped up all of a sudden? Could it be the renewed request by West Glendale residents for the West Branch Library? Do not think that this action will diminish the need for and the growing demand for the West Branch Library.

Another item of interest on the agenda, especially for City of Glendale retirees, is the increasing cost of medical insurance premiums to that community. As an example, my monthly payment for medical insurance through the city for my husband and I is $1,117. As of July 1, 2015 that will increase to $1,280. That is a monthly premium increase of $163 or $1,956 a year. Yet the slide on premiums for retirees over 65 shows a monthly increase of $88 or $1056 a year. Hmmm…it looks like Jim Brown, Director of Human Resources, was only off by $900 a year. It’s almost to the point that retirees’ entire  monthly pension check will be used exclusively to pay medical premiums. Glendale retirees are worried. They took a big, big financial hit last year with a major increase in the premium and now it seems as if the plan is to continue, only incrementally.

Last, although not discussed at this workshop but a week earlier, is the council action to approve Finance Director Duensing’s plan to wipe out its debt repayments to the city’s Enterprise Funds. Glendale, in order to pay the NHL a management fee for the arena, borrowed $15 million from the water and sewer Enterprise Fund; $40 million from the landfill Enterprise Fund; and $5 million from the sanitation Enterprise Fund. When asked how the Enterprise Funds could make up for the loss, Mr. Duensing said, “you could do rate increases, you could defer maintenance, you could cut your operating losses.” Oh really, Mr. Duensing? The repayment to those Enterprise Funds was a firm pledge of a previous council. It was their solemn intent to repay those funds over time. To erase that debt in some kind of accounting trickery is beneath contempt. Is this Glendale’s future? To erode the intent and word of a council to the point where it becomes meaningless? At what point will we, the residents, no longer believe council’s word?

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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.

  March 28, 2015….17 years and 86 days without a West Branch Library

It’s week five and once again you are asked to choose the photo of the correct councilmember. My readers are pretty sharp people who keep up with Glendale issues and events. So it stands to reason that you would have no trouble in selecting the correct photo. The mayoral selection that ran the first week was a roaring success with nearly everyone picking the right photo.

The choices for Councilmember Aldama were nearly as high. 82% or 40 votes were correct in choosing photo # 3. However,  16% or 8 votes were for # 2 and 2% or 1 vote for # 1.

Two weeks ago you were asked to pick out Councilmember Chavira. 92% or 33 votes were correct in choosing photo #1. There were 3 votes (8%) for #3.

Last week you picked out the correct photo, number 3, of Vice Mayor Hugh with 38 votes or 88%. There were 3 votes or 7% for number 3 and 5% or 2 votes for number 1.

This week you are asked to choose the correct photo of Councilmember Bart Turner. Here are your choices:

Number 1

Number 1

BartTurner 2

Number 2

Number 3

Number 3

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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.

Earlier today, March 27, 2015 I made a Public Records Request for information relating to an allegation that Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni may have violated the state’s Conflict of Interest law. Before the close of business today I received the information I had requested. I want to publicly thank Darcie McCracken, Deputy City Clerk, for the excellent and immediate service I received.

The information I received begins with a letter dated February 11, 2014 sent by Frisoni to Michael Bailey, City Attorney and copied to Jim Brown, Director of Human Resources and to then City Manager Brenda Fischer. In her letter she stated that Councilmember Alvarez had been harassing her and creating a hostile work environment for a month. She stated, “This merchant (from Glendale) told our staff today that CM Alvarez told him that I was going to be fired because of my unethical dealings in relation to purchases from a company that my husband works for.” She went on to say, “My understanding is that she (Alvarez) is violating the council code of ethics, as well as the council code of conduct.” She asked for an immediate investigation to remedy the situation and to be advised of the next steps.

Two days later, February 13, 2014 Brenda Fischer sent an email to Frisoni and copied Jim Brown and Michael Bailey. Fischer indicated that after receiving a councilmember complaint she directed Bailey to “research this matter” and based upon Bailey’s review she considered the matter closed. She attached a memo from Bailey with his conclusions. Bailey’s February 13, 2014 memo said, in part, “From his (Shumway) job title, he does not appear to be involved with public sector sales. Based on this cursory review, I did not find any information to indicate that Mr. Shumway was involved with or benefitted from Glendale’s contracts with Insight Public Sector.” He went on to say, “We were not provided nor discovered any evidence suggesting a conflict of interest. Please note that this review was cursory in nature; a more formal review and opinion would require information that isn’t publicly available.”

Fischer’s and Bailey’s conclusions are troubling because of the perceived lack of due diligence by Bailey in investigating the allegation. He said, “On-line information indicates that Mr. Shumway is vice president, information systems-application development at Insight.” He stated, “Based on this cursory review, I did not find any information to indicate that Mr. Shumway was involved with or benefitted from Glendale’s contracts with Insight Public Sector.” As you can see, Bailey appeared to have done on-line research and used that as the basis of his legal opinion. There also seems to be a lot of CYA on Mr. Bailey’s part with words such as “my understanding is” and it “appears.” As any good “jail house attorney” knows, those are wiggle room words. However, a February 20, 2014 letter by Frisoni to Jim Brown and copied to Fischer and Bailey indicated that she was satisfied and stated, “I am satisfied with the current action that has been taken…”

Hold on…not quite so fast…On March 3, 2015, a year later, Councilmember Bart Turner sent an email to Mayor Jerry Weiers, Acting City Manager Dick Bowers, City Attorney Michael Bailey, Vice Mayor Ian Hugh and Finance Director Tom Duensing. Prior to voting on the issue of a payment increase in the Insight contract he asked for an explanation of, “it appears that the increase in the contract is significantly higher than the base ($138,000) without any explanation for what we receive for the additional expenditure.” He made clear that he was not accusing Frisoni of any conflict of interest. He then stated, “In reviewing the conflict of interest disclosure file at the City Clerk’s office I notice there is no non-conflict statement on file from Ms. Frisoni as there are for several other city employees who may have a perceived conflict of interest due to family or personal ties to city business.” There is the answer we were seeking. Ms. Frisoni did not file a Conflict of Interest Disclosure about her husband’s company bid on and securitization of a multi-million dollar contract from the city.

Three days later, on March 6, 2015, Frisoni asked for specific statements attesting to her non conflict of interest. Director of Finance, Tom Duensing specifically asked Chuck Murphy, Chief Information Officer if Frisoni improperly influenced the Insight Public Sector bid. Murphy attested to the fact that it did not occur. Duensing did not offer any assurance. Frisoni then sent their emails to the City Clerk’s office.

Apparently Bailey requested a statement from Frisoni. In response on March 11, 2015, she sent an email to Bailey. Her opening stated, “Pursuant to your request, I am providing information regarding my association with Insight…” It appeared that this email was requested by Bailey to tie up loose ends in an effort to counter and to satisfy Councilmember Turner’s observation that Frisoni never signed a Disclosure. As an addendum within Arizona Revised Statues, Chapter 8, Conflict of Interest there is a specific Disclosure form provided. To this day she has not signed one. She should have erred on the side of caution, given her position within the city’s senior management, of signing such a form. It’s a good thing that she didn’t sign one now and backdate it. We all remember a previous backdating by 4 councilmembers, Eggleston, Martinez, Frate and Goulet that resulted in indictments for them and City Clerk Pam Hanna…all of which were dismissed on a technicality.

Frisoni said over and over in her correspondence that she did not influence or interfere with the City’s bid process and that appears to be true. But it doesn’t answer the question of whether or not she gave advice on that specific bid process to her husband to be passed on to Insight’s bid team. That we will never know.

Frisoni, through her actions, probably earns a zero for ethics. Even though it seems apparent that neither she nor her husband immediately benefitted financially from a successful bid, that’s not the point. It’s a matter of doing the right thing even if no one notices or acknowledges it. In a situation offering even the slightest perception of conflict it would have been prudent of her to disclose that her husband works for a company involved in a very lucrative bid with the city. It would not have hurt anything and would have enhanced her ethical standing. Many people are of the opinion that’s just not her style.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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 has been 17 years and 85 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Peter Corbett in the March 26, 2015 edition of the Arizona Republic had a story entitled “Glendale assistant city manager resigns.” Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2015/03/26/glendale-assistant-manager-resigns/70490792/ . He leads the story by saying, “A top Glendale manager resigned this week in the wake of questions about a computer contract that had been reviewed more than a year ago.”

One month after City Manager Brenda Fischer was hired she appointed Julie Frisoni as an Assistant City Manager in August of 2013. Frisoni’s husband, Jeff Shumway, is a Vice President of Insight Enterprises, Inc. the parent company of Insight Public Sector, Inc. In late 2013 after an RFP had been issued the city accepted Insight’s bid and entered into a multi-year, multi-million dollar computer contract. A year ago, in January of 2014, when Norma Alvarez was still a Glendale city councilmember she raised the question of a conflict of interest on the part of Frisoni. Michael Bailey, Glendale’s newly hired City Attorney and friend of former City Attorney Craig Tindall (Tindall and Frisoni were close friends), reviewed the allegation and according to Corbett, “City Attorney Michael Bailey reviewed six contracts with Insight and determined in February 2014 that Shumway did not sign any of the documents nor was he part of the company’s sales team.” Apparently that was the extent of Bailey’s review of the allegation of a conflict of interest. It appears to have been marginal and tailored to produce the desired result.

What does Arizona law say about conflict of interest?

8.2 The Arizona Conflict of Interest Laws. State statute provides in pertinent part:

  1. Any public officer or employee of a public agency who has, or whose relative has, a substantial interest in any contract, sale, purchase or service to such public agency shall make known that interest in the official records of such public agency and shall refrain from voting upon or otherwise participating in any manner as an officer or employee in such contract, sale or purchase.
  2. Any public officer or employee who has, or whose relative has, a substantial interest in any decision of a public agency shall make known such interest in the official records of such public agency and shall refrain from participating in any manner as an officer or employee in such decision.”

Arizona’s conflict of interest law centers on the concept of “substantial interest.” Substantial interest, for purposes of this law, refers only to a financial interest. In other words the public officer or employee of a public agency or relative must receive financial benefit. In strictly interpreting Arizona’s conflict of interest law, neither Frisoni nor her husband, Shumway, violated the law.

But…perception is reality often times. Julie Frisoni with her 12 years of employment with the City of Glendale wrote and reviewed many, many RFPs. She would have the knowledge required to write a successful RFP and would also have the knowledge, knowing Glendale’s financial condition, of what would be a successful dollar amount to request. Did she share that knowledge with her husband? That is your decision to make.

A successful award of the contract to Insight did not benefit Frisoni or her husband financially and therefore conflict of interest laws were not violated but were there other ways to benefit? Did Shumway benefit in greater status and clout within the company? Did the award by Glendale give him a leg up on the Insight corporate ladder that could result in a future promotion and a larger salary? Who knows? I don’t but that’s the kind of speculation that becomes rampant in this kind of situation.

What is apparent is although it appears to have been all above board it smells bad. It does raise a question. Did Frisoni sign a Conflict of Interest Disclosure? According to state law, 8.7 Disclosure of the Interest. Every political subdivision and public agency subject to A.R.S. §§ 38-501 to -511 must ‘maintain for public inspection in a special file all documents necessary to memorialize all disclosures of substantial interest made known pursuant to this article [A.R.S. §§ 38-501 to – 511].’A.R.S. § 38-509. Any public officer or employee who has a conflict of interest in any agency decision or in the award of a contract must provide written disclosure of that interest in the agency’s special conflict of interest file. A.R.S. § 38-503(A), (B). The officer or employee may either file a signed written disclosure statement fully disclosing the interest or file a copy of the official minutes of the agency which fully discloses the interest. A.R.S. §§ 38-502(3), -509.” I have filed a Public Records Request today to see if Frisoni did indeed sign such a disclosure. What if it is discovered that Frisoni did not file a signed disclosure statement? The penalty could be as severe as a class 5 or 6 felony.

Another part of state law relates to doing business with the public agency with which the person was employed and states, 8.11 Representation of Others After Leaving Public Service. State law also places restrictions on representation of others when a public officer or employee departs from state service. In particular, A.R.S. § 38-504(A) provides:

A public officer or employee shall not represent another person for compensation before a public agency by which the officer or employee is or was employed within the preceding twelve months or on which the officer or employee serves or served within the preceding twelve months concerning any matter with which such officer or employee was directly concerned and in which the officer or employee personally participated during the officer’s or employee’s employment or service by a substantial and material exercise of administrative discretion.” This sanction is clear cut. It remains rumored that Fischer and Frisoni are going to partner in their own communication agency. According to this provision neither one can do business or represent a client doing business with Glendale for 12 months. Since both were senior management it is reasonable to acknowledge that each was “directly concerned or personally participated” on every conceivable issue within the city.

So, faithful blog readers, it appears that Frisoni and her husband, Shumway did not violate the Arizona Conflict of Interest law. What about the spirit of the law?

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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 has been 17 years and 83 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Well, well well, Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni resigned today, March 25, 2015. It appears it will be effective April 22, 2015. Frisoni started her career in Glendale in the Communications Department, eventually rising to become Director of that department. While Ed Beasley was City Manager she was identified by many as a member of his “inner circle.” She was not charged with any culbability in the past audit of the Risk Management Trust Fund. She was appointed Assistant City Manager by former City Manager Brenda Fischer. At the time of her appointment Frisoni did not meet the minimum qualifications for the position. The only rumor floating on the street is that Frisoni may hook up with Brenda Fischer to form their own consulting/PR firm. It’s speculative to say the least but not an unreasonable speculation.

Now all that leaves is Assistant City Manager Jennifer Campbell. We all wonder if she is still AWOL at Glendale City Hall on Fridays and if she is still teaching at Glendale Community College. Pulling down two pay checks is sweet.

Today the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee voted out H.R. 308, Representative Trent Franks Keep the Promise Act of 2015 reintroduced in the House of Representatives as HR 308 on January 13, 2015. This was Representative Franks’ original bill, now renumbered as a result of its reintroduction. It would prevent the Tohono O’odham from building its casino in Glendale.

That’s enough good news for one day, don’t you think?

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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 has been 17 years and 82 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

This afternoon, March 24, 2015 at 1:30 PM the city council will be meeting in workshop session to receive more information on the proposed Fiscal Year 2016-17 budget. The focus will be on the Capital Improvement Program.

The City of Glendale has posted the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) 2016-2025 on its website.  Here is the link: CIPDRAFT3_24v

The current proposed CIP has no funding from the General Fund for anything other than construction of a parking garage at Westgate. One note: you will see funding for water, sewer and sanitation projects but their bond repayment is not from the General Fund. They are paid from stand alone Enterprise Funds and the Enterprise bonds issued are paid back from the rate payers who use those services. You will also see funding for some street and airport projects but the funding for those does not come from the General Fund either. They are funded from the voter approved, dedicated portion of the sales tax that goes into the Transportation Fund.

The city’s General Fund is used to pay ongoing operating (the largest line item being employee salaries) and maintenance expenses (for city facilities) as well as to pay back bonds that have been issued for the following categories:

  • Fund 1980 – Street/Parking bonds
  • Fund 2140 – Open Space/Trails bonds
  • Fund 2060 – Parks bonds
  • Fund 2160 – Library bonds
  • Fund 2040 – Public Safety bonds
  • Fund 2080 – Government Facilities bonds
  • Fund 2130 – Cultural Facility bonds
  • Fund 2100 – Economic Development bonds
  • Fund 2180 – Flood Control bonds                                                                                              

The major General Fund bond issuance in the draft CIP 2016-2015 is for a parking garage at Westgate. It is Project 68124, Parking garage at Westgate with the following schedule of funding:

  • FY 2016 $  2,404,337
  • FY 2017 $20,000,172
  • FY 2018 $23,999,730
  • TOTAL  $46,404,239

Within the General Fund bond capacity funding are a few, small street projects (about 3), each less than $350,000; $1.6 million to upgrade storm drains; and an upgrade of the police digital communication system for $1.9 million. There is nothing even considered until after 2020 for Open Space/Trails, Parks, Library, Government Facilities, Cultural Facilities or Economic Development. These are all quality-of-life amenities that make a city great. They are the projects that attract new residents to Glendale and new businesses that appreciate the amenities that will help them attract quality employees. All of that is forsaken for a new parking structure at Westgate for over $46 million dollars. Trust me…that price tag will increase over time.

This new parking garage will cost a little under a million dollars annually for utilities and maintenance. A new operating expense will be added to the General Fund. For the past ten years staff was required to show where new money for a new operating expense would come from. The narrative for this expense within this CIP is cursorily dismissed with “Additional O and M will be absorbed within the current operating budget.”

The bottom line is that Glendale still has a structural deficit. To date, former City Manager Fischer and the Director of Finance, Tom Duensing, have used band aids. They have refinanced the city’s debt (done previously and historically when the market is favorable) and they have relied on making the temporary sales tax increase permanent. They have never attacked the real problem – the city is spending more than it takes in while it’s major debt components (construction debt for the arena and ball park and the annual $15 million dollar payment to Ice Arizona for managing the arena) bleeds the city dry.

Until senior management decides to live within its means by cutting General Fund expenses and resolves the construction debt burden and the $15 million annual payment burden we won’t see the city build amenities that can be used by its residents.

Apparently senior management believes there is some debt repayment capacity within the General Fund. What is it being used for? A parking garage at Westgate. Can you imagine what could be done with $46 million dollars? The city could build the West Branch Library, and still have money left over to renovate and upgrade existing parks and build some new parks as well. In other words, that money could be used to upgrade your quality-of-life and attract new business development to Glendale.

Why a parking garage at Westgate now? There is a 2002 contractual obligation with the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (I no longer have a copy of the agreement) that requires the city to guarantee 6,000 parking spaces for games. Those spaces have been located within Westgate since the stadium opened. As Westgate’s land is used for new development those 6,000 spaces diminish. However, there is still a great deal of raw land to the east and north within Westgate. The purpose of the Youth Sports fields construction just to the east of the stadium was to relieve any parking spaces lost in Westgate proper. It provides 4,000 to 6,000 overflow parking spaces that still fulfill the agreement’s requirement for parking. Apparently that’s not good enough for the Bidwill’s who have been grousing and pushing for this parking garage for several years. So, the city has caved and will build the parking garage to be completed by the end of 2017. Great for the Bidwills…not so great for the residents of Glendale.

It’s a matter of priorities. It seems the greatest priority is to build a parking garage in Westgate while bonding for another $46 + million dollars and lesser priorities — to be fulfilled someday — are the quality-of-life amenities that Glendale citizens can enjoy.  Is this your priority? If not, what are you going to do about it? Sit back and eat it? Or let your councilmembers know what matters to you?

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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 has been 17 years and 81 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

I received the following press release today, March 23, 2015 from the Recall Councilman Gary Sherwood Committee.

“For Immediate Release:

Recall Councilman Gary Sherwood Campaign In Full Swing

March 15, 2015 – Glendale, Arizona

“The Recall Councilman Gary Sherwood Committee announced today the launch of its website, STOP SHERWOOD, a new contact point for the recall of Gary Sherwood, the current Councilmember from Glendale’s Sahuaro District as well as its signature-gathering petition drive.

“Committee Chairperson Anna Lee said, ‘The Stop Sherwood website contains pages and pages of documents that prove what Gary Sherwood has done against the interests of Glendale and its citizens, especially those of us he is supposed to be representing, here in the Sahuaro District. It also contains contact information for those who want to sign a petition, share their experiences, put a sign in their yard or join the campaign. We will also be adding a Calendar of Events page so the public can attend rallies and other functions pertaining to the Sherwood recall.’

“This, the committee’s second effort to unseat Councilmember Sherwood, was filed February 20, 2015. The first time, the committee attempted to submit nearly 4,400 Sahuaro District voter signatures to the City Clerk’s office, but because of a technicality in the printing on the petition form, they were all invalidated. Lee said, “What a shame! More people signed a petition to get Sherwood out of office than voted for him in the first place.  We will be sure that these constituents are heard from in this campaign.”

“The Recall Councilman Gary Sherwood Committee has already begun its petition campaign to once again gather the required signatures for a recall vote. “Our website and the aggressive outreach campaign we have planned should get the word out. We know we’ll prevail this time,” said Lee.

“For more information about the STOP SHERWOOD recall campaign, call the committee message phone at 602.657.0303, e-mail: info@stopsherwood.com, or visit: www.stopsherwood.com.

###

Contact:  Anna Lee, 602-657-0303 / info@stopsherwood.com

March 21, 2015….17 years and 80days without a West Branch Library

It’s week four and once again you are asked to choose the photo of the correct Vice Mayor. My readers are pretty sharp people who keep up with Glendale issues and events. So it stands to reason that you would have no trouble in selecting the correct photo. The mayoral selection that ran the first week was a roaring success with nearly everyone picking the right photo. The choices for Councilmember Aldama were nearly as high. 82% or 40 votes were correct in choosing photo # 3. However, this time 16% or 8 votes were for # 2 and 2% or 1 vote for # 1. Last week you were asked to pick out Councilmember Chavira. 92% or 33 votes were correct in choosing photo #1. There were 3 votes (8%) for #3.

This week (Saturday, March 21 to Saturday, March 28) you will pick out the correct photo of Vice Mayor Hugh:

Number 1

Number 1

Number 2

Number 2

Number 3

Number 3

 

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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 Monday, March 16, 2015 the Glendale city council held a special workshop meeting. The only agenda item was the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRC). There were 4 presenters: Brian Jeffries, President of the Professional Firefighters of Arizona (PFFA); Scott McCarty, representing the Arizona League of Cities and Towns Pension Reform Task Force; Justin Harris, President of the Glendale Law Enforcement Association (GLEA) and Secretary of the Arizona Police Officers Association (APOA); and Julie Pendergast, President of the Glendale Chapter of the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police (Glendale FOP) and Co-Chair of the Glendale Law Enforcement Coalition (GLEA +GFOP).

Mr. Jeffries (PFFA) began with a 35 minute presentation of the history and background of the PSPRC; legal challenges as a result of SB 1609 passed by the Arizona Legislature in 2014; and the state fire union’s call for a constitutional amendment to the state constitution. Mr. Jeffries was articulate and offered a slick presentation. One can appreciate why he is the president of the state fire union.

He acknowledged as their partners in seeking a constitutional amendment several law firms hired by the union; TriAdvocates hired by the union as their communications arm; the Fire Chiefs Union and the Fire Districts Association; and last but not least, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Arizona Police Association and the Arizona Highway Patrol Association.

He did clarify at one point, that while law enforcement had attended fire’s meetings on the issue of pension reform it was there to observe rather than as an active participant.

In essence, Jeffries was asking for council to sign on as a supporter of their constitutional amendment proposal. Their fire referendum’s basic language states, “The benefits of the beneficiaries shall neither be diminished nor impaired except for the provisions on Bill xxxx (sic), as passed by the legislature in 2014.” I don’t pretend to be an expert on SB 1609 and its provisions but it appears as if the fire union really, really wants this bill – to the extent that they want it to be a constitutional amendment. They don’t appear to be interested in true pension reform.

There have been lawsuits filed against SB 1609 and in the Harris case, one provision relating to retiree benefits has been struck down successfully. Another case, the Hall case relating to active personnel benefits, looks like it, too, will be struck down successfully.

Despite those provisions being removed the fire union still wants this bill to remain in perpetuity. Jeffries threw down the gauntlet when he proclaimed that the fire union wanted action now and were prepared to mount a statewide referendum campaign to get it on the ballot this year. We should all be asking, why the rush? Next year, 2016, there will be a presidential election and it could be on the ballot at that time. Instead they are ready to fund it and run it as a full, political operation with TV advertising, direct mail and a statewide grassroots effort – now, right now. The question remains, why?

The next presenter, Scott McCarty represents the Arizona League of Cities and Towns. The league, last June, put together a task force on pension reform. The League is taking a measured approach and is currently preparing a Draft Yardstick of pension reform goals, measurements and outcomes. In May or June of this year, they will compare the fire union’s proposal against their Draft Yardstick and by August, 2015 they will present their proposal for pension reform along with their findings of the fire union proposal to all participating cities at their Annual League Meeting.

Last up were Justin Harris (GLEA) and Julie Pendergast (Glendale FOP). Mr. Harris spoke on behalf of both Glendale police unions. He disputed Jefferies’ assertions that the police were on board by unequivocally stating, “The police union is not working in ‘concert’ with the fire union.” He went on to say, “Currently the police union is at odds with the fire union over an agreeable solution.” He said, “The police union wants a plan that is legitimate, legal and long standing.” If Mr. Jeffries’ statements about police union support for this constitutional amendment were in fact, misstatements, what else in his presentation was a misstatement?

Mayor Weiers made some interesting comments. He explained that at the time SB 1069 was introduced, he was Chair of the House Rules Committee. Upon legal advice he came to the opinion that SB 1069 was unconstitutional and would face legal challenges. Kirk Adams was former House Speaker and fully supported SB 1069. In essence, Mayor Weiers said Adams threatened him with removal of his chairmanship if he did not pass SB 1069 out of committee. Weiers acceded.

Weiers also stated that Mike Colletto of the Professional Fire Fighters Association was opposed to the bill but eventually caved and joined in signing off on it. It just so happens that Kirk Adams is Chief of Staff for newly elected Governor Doug Ducey. So don’t be surprised if the fire union effort eventually receives an endorsement from the Governor’s office.

Mayor Weiers then asked Acting City Manager Dick Bowers if this agenda item was informational or required direction because…he and the rest of council had received an email from…you, guessed it…Councilmember Gary Sherwood…asking that council give direction to place this item on an evening voting meeting agenda so that council could support the fire union’s proposed statewide referendum. Doesn’t Sherwood ever quit?

Councilmember Chavira, a firefighter for Phoenix, just couldn’t stand Mayor Weiers’ characterization of his self proclaimed mentor, Mike Colletto and said, “I never saw Mike Colleto cave on anything.” After thanking Jeffries profusely for his “complete presentation” (he almost said “complex”) he then went on to chide the council by stating the need for “solidarity” between the two unions implying that shamefully the police unions were not standing toe to toe with their brother union.

The most important lesson coming out of this informational presentation is that cooler heads…a majority of them…prevail. Those cooler heads are willing to take the time necessary to come up with public safety pension reform, built on compromise, that will stand up to legal challenge and last over time. The fire union’s proposed constitutional amendment speaks to a hidden agenda…what do you think it is?

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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.

March 19, 2015….17 years and 78 days without a West Branch Library

Please note: From now on my header will contain the length of time West Glendale has been waiting for its long promised library.

It’s only been a few weeks since former City Manager Brenda Fischer resigned and her “publicists” remain hard at work. I have no doubt there will be more positive stories planted in the local media about the “great job” Fischer did in her 17 months in Glendale.

On March 13, 2015 Eric Jay Toll authored an article entitled “The two sides of the Fischer-Weiers split” in the Phoenix Business Journal. Unfortunately unless one has a paid subscription one cannot read the entire article as the website only posts a paragraph or two. As luck would have it, my neighbor does subscribe and gave me his copy.

There was one very notable quote in the article. “Brenda Fischer was good to employees, and she was good for business in the city,” said Glendale Firefighters Association President Joe Hester. “When she left, it was an extreme disappointment. I’ve worked with a number of city managers and she was the first one I’ve worked with who was fully transparent, operated with integrity and had a word that could be trusted.”

Is Joe Hester implying that Interim City Manager Dick Bowers is not “fully transparent,” does not “operate with integrity” and his word is not to “be trusted?” After all, Hester states categorically that she was the first city manger that he worked with who embodied those qualities. Dick Bowers, former City Manager of Scottsdale for many years, is a person with an impeccable reputation of the utmost integrity, transparency and trust. If I were Mr. Bowers I would be none too happy with Mr. Hester’s remarks.

Hester has only been President of the Glendale Firefighters Association for a few years. As president of the union he did not work with Dr. Martin Vanacour, Glendale’s City Manager from 1985 to 2001. If he worked with Glendale’s next City Manager from 2001 to 2012, Ed Beasley, it was for a very brief time prior to Beasley’s departure. So who did Hester work with? That leaves Horatio Skeete, City Manager for about 4 or 5 months in 2012; Dick Bowers for approximately 8 months in 2012 to 2013; Brenda Fischer for 17 months from 2013 to 2015; and now Dick Bowers again. It appears that the number of city managers with whom Hester has worked is three. His characterization of a “number of city managers” would lead one to believe that there have been scads of them. Hmmm.

Then again, of course Mr. Hester was delighted to have Fischer as Glendale’s city manager and why not? Ms. Fischer’s husband was, and may still be for all I know, a firefighter in Henderson, Nevada. It is understandable that Ms. Fischer’s natural bias would be in favor of the firefighters. Wouldn’t Hester feel he had a sympathetic ear when it came to firefighter goals and issues?

Mr. Hester also stated that Ms. Fischer was “good for business in the city.” Perhaps he should have checked with Robert Heidt Jr., President and CEO of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce. I don’t think anyone has forgotten Ms. Fischer’s temper tantrum directed at Mr. Heidt at the Yard House restaurant…a very public place.

Mr. Toll’s headline for his article, “The two sides of the Fischer-Weiers split” implies that Mayor Weiers was responsible for her leaving. Not so. Ms. Fischer was capable of causing it all on her own. Her actions including promoting Julie Frisoni as Assistant City Manager when she was unqualified for the position at the time; her very public berating of the Glendale Chamber President; her perceived advocacy for one councilmember’s (Gary Sherwood) agenda; and her brazen request for three sitting councilmember’s emails were more than enough to sour a majority of council on her leadership.

Many have come to the conclusion that Ms. Fischer orchestrated her own demise as Glendale’s city manager.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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.

%d bloggers like this: