It has been 17 years and 309 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.
This may be a bit complicated to follow but perhaps by breaking it into smaller bites it will become more understandable. Strands of a tangled spider web emerge and as we explore the web a clearer understanding will be created.
Presented by Councilman Aldama & Councilman Chavira
On the weekend of October 31-November 1, 2015 an event was held at city owned Murphy Park in downtown Glendale. That event was the Dia de Los Muertos. The event had 13 sponsors but take particular note of 4 sponsors: 1. The City of Glendale (Logo prominently displayed as a sponsor), 2. The Glendale Convention and Visitors Bureau (Visit Glendale logo), 3. Glendale Councilmember Chavira, and 4. Glendale Councilmember Aldama.
Why take note of these sponsors? The photo to the right is of a political banner advertising the reelection of Martin Quezada, a Democrat candidate for Legislative District 29. Unfortunately there was no similar political banner for Quezada’s Republican challenger Aaron Borders.
Why does it matter whether the opposing candidates in a district legislative race had been invited to supply election material and/or participate in this event? The event was partially sponsored by the city, city councilmembers using their district funds (Glendale taxpayer monies) and the Glendale Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Arizona Revised Statutes speaks to such a situation. I have boldened the relevant language within A.R.S. §9-500.14: 9-500.14. Use of city or town resources or employees to influence elections; prohibition; civil penalty; definitions
- A city or town shall not spend or use its resources, including the use or expenditure of monies, accounts, credit, facilities, vehicles, postage, telecommunications, computer hardware and software, web pages, personnel, equipment, materials, buildings or any other thing of value of the city or town, for the purpose of influencing the outcomes of elections. Notwithstanding this section, a city or town may distribute informational pamphlets on a proposed bond election as provided in section 35-454 if those informational pamphlets present factual information in a neutral manner. Nothing in this section precludes a city or town from reporting on official actions of the governing body.
- The prohibition on the use of public resources to influence the outcome of bond, budget override and other tax-related elections includes the use of city-focused or town-focused promotional expenditures that occur after an election is called and through election day. This prohibition does not include routine city or town communications.
- This section does not prohibit the use of city or town resources, including facilities and equipment, for government-sponsored forums or debates if the government sponsor remains impartial and the events are purely informational and provide an equal opportunity to all viewpoints. The rental and use of a public facility by a private person or entity that may lawfully attempt to influence the outcome of an election is permitted if it does not occur at the same time and place as a government-sponsored forum or debate.
- Employees of a city or town shall not use the authority of their positions to influence the vote or political activities of any subordinate employee.
- The attorney general or the county attorney of the county in which an alleged violation of this section occurred may initiate a suit in the superior court in the county in which the city or town is located for the purpose of complying with this section.
- For each violation of this section, the court may impose a civil penalty not to exceed five thousand dollars plus any amount of misused funds subtracted from the city or town budget against a person who knowingly violates or aids another person in violating this section. The person determined to be out of compliance with this section is responsible for the payment of all penalties and misused funds. City or town funds or insurance payments shall not be used to pay these penalties or misused funds. All misused funds collected pursuant to this section shall be returned to the city or town whose funds were misused.
- Nothing contained in this section shall be construed as denying the civil and political liberties of any employee as guaranteed by the United States and Arizona Constitutions.
- For the purposes of this section:
- “Government-sponsored forum or debate” means any event, or part of an event or meeting, in which the government is an official sponsor, which is open to the public or to invited members of the public, and whose purpose is to inform the public about an issue or proposition that is before the voters.
- “Influencing the outcomes of elections” means supporting or opposing a candidate for nomination or election to public office or the recall of a public officer or supporting or opposing a ballot measure, question or proposition, including any bond, budget or override election and supporting or opposing the circulation of a petition for the recall of a public officer or a petition for a ballot measure, question or proposition in any manner that is not impartial or neutral.
- “Misused funds” means city or town monies or resources used unlawfully as proscribed by this section.
- “Routine city or town communications” means messages or advertisements that are germane to the functions of the city or town and that maintain the frequency, scope and distribution consistent with past practices or are necessary for public safety.
A.R.S.§9-550.14 seems to say that city sponsored political activity is only permitted if it is fair and impartial and an equal opportunity is provided for all viewpoints (including candidates’ opponents). It should also be noted that there were also booths in support of several school district override elections but none for those who opposed the very same override elections.
The Glendale CVB was a sponsor:
Welcome To Dia De Los Muertos Online
The Glendale, AZ Convention & Visitors Bureau welcomes you to their inaugural, Dia de Los Muertos celebration in Historic Downtown Glendale.
The Glendale CVB is a department within the city’s Communications Division:
Page 140 2013 budget book:
Mission Statement: To develop and implement marketing and public relations programs, resident communications and visitor services that promote Glendale and ensure the city’s key messages are delivered to target audiences in an accurate, timely and cost-effective manner.
Department Description: The Marketing/Communications Department consists of nine divisions, including the Public Relations Office, Special Events, Tourism and the new Glendale Convention & Visitors Bureau, Glendale 11, Glendale Media Center, Web Services, Creative Services, Glendale Civic Center and Administration. Marketing/Communications produces and oversees Glendale’s print and electronic communications with the public and the media, as well as develops communication strategies and marketing campaigns that enhance the city’s image. The city’s special events, produced in this department, draw about one-half million visitors to downtown Glendale annually. FISCAL YEAR 2013 GOALS
Successfully transition Glendale Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) from a membership fee based budget model to a bed tax revenue budget model. Related Council Goal One community with quality economic development. (Glendale collects bed sales tax and acts as a pass through on to the CVB).
Update CVB Business Plan to reflect organization’s new funding model, establish new organization bylaws, create new hotel advisory group, meet with group to identify budget priorities, develop new advertising, marketing and sales plan, etc.
If you go to the city’s website and Follow Your Money under the heading Council Office and then the Miscellaneous category for each councilmember you will find Chavira’s and Aldama’s contributions from their district budgets, in other words, taxpayer dollars. Here is Chavira:
|DIA DE LOS MUERTOS EVENT 10/31
And here is Aldama:
|DIA DE LOS MUERTOS EVENT 10/31
It would seem that city resources, funds and employees were used to set up and take down the event infrastructure. What was the amount of funding expended by the Glendale Convention & Visitors Bureau as a sponsor? What did the City of Glendale as a sponsor provide in terms of employee manpower and funding or advertising for this event? Did Glendale City Attorney Michael Bailey vet this event and approve the expenditures of the CVB and the $2500 donations each made by Councilmembers Aldama and Chavira? Did Attorney Bailey issue an opinion that these expenditures were not in conflict with A.R.S.§9-500.14 and why or why not they were not in conflict? Did Attorney Bailey advise the City Manager and the city council that city resources were about to be used for what was clearly a partisan event?
Councilmembers Aldama and Chavira could have made contributions to support this event with personal funds. That would have removed any concerns about a potential conflict with A.R.S. §9-550.14. What is even more disconcerting is that LD 29 serves either a portion of or all of Chavira’s Yucca district and Aldama’s Ocotillo district. Both councilmembers are Democrat and the candidate(s) invited to participate in the event were exclusively Democrat. It appears to smack of bias, cronyism and favoritism. It appears that city funds were used to support selected candidates and pro school bond overrides without any opposing viewpoints. It appears that there are alleged violations of A.R.S§9-500.14.
Councilmember Aldama posted this on his Facebook page:
November 1 at 6:58pm
Thank you LD 29. Senetor Quezada, Representatives Andrade & CeciVelasquez for your support in Downtown Glendale.
One would think that as this comes to the attention of Glendale’s City Attorney Michael Bailey that he would ask either the County or State Attorney Generals to investigate and file charges if necessary. Nope, not going to happen. Bailey’s prime directive is to protect the interests of the City of Glendale. He isn’t going to turn the city in for an alleged violation of A.R.S §9-550.14. However, that does not prevent anyone else reading this blog to file a complaint with either the County or State Attorney Generals’ Offices requesting an investigation and if necessary, subsequent charges.
Since this matter was brought to my attention I am sharing with you, my readers. I am not an attorney and I do not know if the alleged violation has merit. Only the County or State Attorney Generals’ Offices can make that determination.
However, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, do we have a duck?
© Joyce Clark, 2015
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