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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

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It has been 18 years and 102 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

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HeroesParkbutton

Tom Traw of the Yucca district and Norma Alvarez of the Ocotillo district have joined forces and are calling for Yucca and Ocotillo district residents tired of seeing a dirt and weed filled park. They are calling on all Yucca and Ocotillo residents to go to the next Glendale City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 12,2016 at Glendale City Hall in the Council Chambers. I applaud their effort. I plan to attend that evening.

There is more than one issue to be concerned about but we’ll get to the others later. Let’s talk Heroes Park first. The park is 88 acres and classified as a city regional park. The only other regional parks in Glendale are Thunderbird Park and Sahuaro Ranch Park. They are completed and convenient to those who live in central or north Glendale. The city plan for Heroes Park calls for:

  • A permanent 35,000 SF branch library to serve residents to the south and west of Grand Avenue. The current proposal to place a 7,500 SF modular building to serve as a branch library is a travesty. It will be 1/5 the size of the Foothills Branch Library (35,000 SF) and half the size of Velma Teague Branch Library in Murphy Park (approximately 15,000 SF). It removes the city’s urgent need to fulfill its commitment to build a permanent West Branch Library at Heroes Park.
  • A major recreation and aquatics center similar to Foothills Recreation and Aquatic Center.
  • An urban fishing lake.
  • Ball fields.
  • A dog park

What is in the park now? Several basketball courts (heavily used and loved), a zero depth

Closed X Court

Closed X Court

splash pad, a tot lot with some tables and benches, a closed and abandoned X Court (for inline skating) and ramadas (for rent). That’s it. The balance of 66 acres sits desolate with dirt and tumbleweeds.

This park has been in the city’s plans since approximately 1988, over 18 years. In 1998 this

Southwest Heroes Park

Southwest Heroes Park

park was on the verge of disappearing. The city seriously considered selling the park land to a developer for nearly 500 homes. It took a massive show of citizens objecting to the sale to save this park. Over the years former Mayor Scruggs and the councilmembers who supported her have played games with this park and at her direction, along with a majority of councilmembers in 2006, $6 million for park development was diverted to complete the construction of the Regional Public Safety Training Facility. The most recent threat to this park’s development, prior to the Great Recession, was the city’s plan to build a new City Court House. Any money earmarked for the park would have been diverted to build the court house.

Since the Great Recession a plea to finish this park with its planned amenities has met the continual city mantra of we have no money. Oh really? The city could find $32 million

Northeast Heroes Park

Northeast Heroes Park

instantly to buy the land and to build parking to satisfy the Cardinals. They had to fulfill their contractual obligation to the Cardinals and so the parking will be constructed. Yet they can’t seem to find money to finish this park.

What other issues face the residents of the Yucca and Ocotillo districts? One is O’Neil Park’s swimming pool. Several years ago leaks were discovered and the pool was closed and has been closed ever since. It has disenfranchised over 2,000 children who live in the square mile from Camelback Road to Bethany Home Road, 59th Avenue to 67th Avenue. It has the densest population per square mile of any square mile in the city.  That square mile contains over 1300 homes and is ringed by 10 apartment complexes. Swimming pools per home is one of the lowest in the city. If I remember correctly, there is one residential pool for every 10 homes in that square mile. When we lived in that square mile we had no pool and our family relied heavily on the use of O’Neil pool.

Now the city wants to bulldoze the pool and “repurpose the land.” The city has a solemn obligation to repair or rebuild O’Neil pool. In the Capital Improvement Plan one of the criteria for deciding the merit of a project is the city’s obligation to repair and remediate existing city infrastructure. That is exactly what O’Neil pool is, existing city infrastructure.

The last issue of importance for the Yucca and Ocotillo districts is Jake Long’s (son of deceased John F. Long) request to put over 1,100 homes on the farm land between the Grand Canal Linear Park and Camelback Road, 83rd Avenue to 91st Avenue.  The plan’s housing proposal is too dense and many of the homes are requested to be built on 5,500 square foot lots. The city’s minimum single family lot size is R1-6, 6,000 square feet. Typically lots smaller than 6,000 square feet are reserved for attached homes and not for a single family home. Why would the city accept such a plan? Because it’s Jake Long asking?  Because that’s all that this part of town merits? I fought this fight the entire time I was on council and succeeded many times. For example under my leadership, Rovey Farm Estates’ smallest lots on its west boundary at 91st Avenue are 8,000 square feet and lots on the east boundary on 83rd Avenue are from 1/3 of an acre to an acre. Missouri Ranch has a minimum lot size of 10,000 square feet and sits on the eastern boundary of the proposed Long development project. There are many streets in this area adjacent to the proposed development whose homes are on one acre lots with horse privileges. None of these residents are happy about having small, residential lots adjacent to them.

By now you should be angry and disgusted. I know that I am. These two districts, Yucca and Ocotillo deserve better treatment and a renewed laser-like focus by the city. No longer should we shrug our shoulders. It’s time we spoke out and demanded better. It’s time.

Think about it. Somewhere between 100 and 150 people showed up to oppose the sale of the Foothills Branch Library and they succeeded. An equal number of citizens showed up to protest Becker Billboards’ proposal to erect billboards in north Glendale. They, too, succeeded. A show of force, a show of citizens will cause city council to react.

Please plan to attend the Tuesday, April 12, 2016 meeting of the city council at 6 P.M. Citizen Comments are offered at the beginning of each city council meeting. You do not have to speak unless you wish to do so. Comments are limited to 3 minutes per individual. So take the time to plan your remarks. Others will be there to speak. We need numbers…hundreds of residents to show that we stand behind the speakers to these issues. Please commit an hour or two that night to back up the speakers and to demonstrate to city council that there are a lot of people who want this council to pay attention to and to fulfill commitments made. Please email Tom Traw at ttraw@aol.com or call Norma Alvarez at 623-934-0734 to let them know that you plan to attend and to support your district.

There are strong reasons to show your support:

  • Are you tired of a dirt and weed filled park that has languished for over 18 years?
  • Are your children now adults but when you moved here counted on a park and library for their enjoyment? A park and library that never came. An entire generation of children has grown up without benefit of Heroes Park and its branch library.
  • Are you tired of the city’s neglect of your neighborhood? Whether it’s code enforcement or poor streets or lack of maintenance of city infrastructure?
  • Are you tired of the city’s inaction and failure to fix O’Neal pool?
  • Are you tired of the city’s acceptance of proposed residential projects that do nothing to preserve your property values?
  • Are you tired of the city’s acceptance of proposed dense, residential projects filled with small homes on even smaller lot sizes?
  • Are you tired of the neglect that has become pervasive in the Yucca and Ocotillo districts?
In the shadow of the University of Phoenix Stadium at Heroes Park

Heroes Park. One can see the UofP Stadium in the distance (1 mile away)

Then please join us Tuesday, April 12, 2016, at 6 P.M. at City Hall Council Chambers (at the intersection of 59th Avenue and Grand Avenue) for a show of force. Citizens are advised not to clap or shout during the meeting. The practice has become to raise your hands high when you approve of a speaker’s message. We will not be the silent majority any longer. We will make our presence known and our voices heard. I will be there. Will you?

Glendale City Council meeting

Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 6 P.M.

Glendale City Hall Council Chambers

                                         At the intersection of Grand Ave. and 59th Ave.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

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It has been 18 years and 99 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

At the Glendale city council meeting of March 22, 2016 during Council Comments Sammy stated that he will request a review by council of its travel policy. And so the story of his questionable travel expenses lives on. If he thought announcing that he was requesting a review of the policy would put him on the right side of the issue he was wrong. Once someone in the public eye has committed a transgression it lives in the public eye forever. Sammy’s travel expenses are an election issue. They go to the character of the man and to his ability to make sound, ethical judgments.

Paul Giblin of the Arizona Republic has another story on Sammy’s travel out today, March 25, 2016. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/03/24/glendale-councilman-sammy-chavira-seeks-review-travel-policy/82181492/ .

In Giblin’s story there are quotes from a recent Chavira email and City Attorney Michael Bailey’s email response on the issue. Chavira emailed City Attorney Michael Bailey and City Manager Kevin Phelps saying, “I would appreciate if you confirm that I followed all the rules and regulations regarding my travel expenditures. Additionally I would appreciate it if you would confirm that I submitted all my receipts and appropriate paperwork.” Note Sammy’s choice in wording. He used the word “confirm.” Hmm…it’s pretty obvious that Sammy is seeking someone, anyone to provide cover for his ethically challenged travel expenditures.

Mr. Giblin received Public Information Requests not only for Sammy’s email but for City Attorney Michael Bailey’s response. Now it gets interesting.  Bailey noted that the council’s travel policy is lax as no prior approval is required by anyone and the councilmember has the responsibility to decide if an expense is reasonable. What appears reasonable to Sammy may not be reasonable to you or others.

Giblin quotes from Bailey’s email, “Noting the foregoing (council’s lax policy and the absence of any standard for reasonableness) and based upon the information I have been provided regarding travel expenditures, the information does not conclusively establish any unlawful expenditures or any expenditures in violation of council policy.” How is that for making sure Bailey has wiggle room? You have to especially like the use of the word “conclusively.”

Then there is the issue of lost receipts raised by Councilmember Turner. Council has no policy regarding how to handle them appropriately or to establish a cap on reimbursements made with no paperwork to confirm the amount being requested. Apparently Sammy was reimbursed for lost receipts as well.

It gets even better. Giblin asked former Fire Chief Mark Burdick, now a mayoral candidate, about the situation. Burdick’s answer? He thought Sammy used his personal credit card and had no idea that Sammy used the city’s credit card to pay for the infamous $420 dinner. Where is Burdick’s announcement that under those circumstances, he too, will reimburse the city personally? Where is Burdick’s statement on the propriety of a dinner that included one of his subordinate fire fighters, Glendale fire fighter Danny Valenzuela?  According to Giblin, Burdick goes on to request a citizen’s ethics commission to oversee councilmembers’ expenses. That idea may be a bit of overkill as a remedy but hey, Burdick’s got to distinguish himself from the incumbent mayor somehow. This is as good a way as any.

In Giblin’s online Arizona Republic story there are graphs and charts comparing the travel expenditures of all of the councilmembers. Note that the two highest spenders are Sammy and recalled Councilmember Gary Sherwood. It appears that both fancied themselves as high rollers. They were buddies. They often went on the same trips. They voted together on many high profile city issues. Many citizens believe that they might have traded votes. The most notable being Sherwood’s flip-flop on the casino issue voting in favor and Sammy’s flip-flop on the $15 million a year arena management contract to IceArizona voting in favor. Each of these men voted in direct opposition to their campaign promises to their voters.

The ethical action for Sammy would be to reimburse the city for his problematical travel expenditures. He can’t do that although he should. If he were to reimburse the city that is tantamount to an admission of wrong doing. Sammy has no choice but to continue his mantra of I did nothing wrong. We’ve all heard many politicians say the same only to have them end up in jail.

The problem for Sammy is twofold. This issue is not going to go away before the Primary Election on August 30, 2016 and it forever defines his ethics and character for the voters of the Yucca district. They are angry and disgusted to learn Sammy wasted nearly $25,000 of their hard earned tax dollars.

Sammy has never addressed the primary purpose of his trips. To all appearances his primary purpose was to have fun in Washington, D. C. on your money. His perceived secondary purpose was to throw in some sort of brief meeting on a city related topic to provide him with just enough cover to be considered legal. The primary purpose and secondary purpose of a trip on taxpayer money is the distinction that many are missing. If the primary purpose is conclusively for city business that is legitimate. Perhaps secondary, unrelated to city business, portions of trips should be paid by the individual.

The voters of the Yucca district are angry. Glendale city councilmembers should be angry as well. They made appropriate and ethical decisions regarding the primary purpose of their travel. Unfortunately the ethically-tainted brush being used on Sammy will be used on them. Sammy’s apparent unethical decisions have now called into question their decisions.

Sammy’s questionable ethics is a story that is not going to go away although he may on Primary Election Day.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘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 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 material. 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 18 years and 98 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

The reaction to the Tuesday, March 22, 2016 presidential primary in Arizona has been deafening and swift. Arizona’s long lines were a national story and an embarrassment as was the clearly unequal dispersement of polling locations throughout the county. Some areas ofI voted the county probably had too many polling locations while other areas of the county had none.

Greg Stanton, Phoenix’s mayor, has asked the U.S. Attorney to investigate. A petition is circulating asking the Obama administration’s Justice Department to investigate. Governor Doug Ducey weighed in calling for future open primaries that would allow all registered voters, no matter what party they belong to, to vote in a primary election. Even the State House Elections Committee is getting into the act and holding a hearing.

There’s plenty of blame to go around and all of it does not belong at the feet of Helen Purcell, Maricopa County Recorder. Don’t read this as Purcell being blameless for the buck stops at her office. She made poor decisions and bad recommendations to the County Board of Supervisors. She decided that there would be more mail-in ballots cast than walk-in votes. Wrong.  In February, upon the recommendation of Purcell, the Board approved only 60 locations from its usual number of 120. Purcell said cost concerns and the belief that a majority of ballots would be mail-in drove her recommendation. This is not the only election where an erroneous Purcell decision caused problems during an election. She won’t resign but it is time for her to go. Don’t worry; there will be plenty of candidates vying for her position at the next election.

Wait a minute…the Board of Supervisors did not have to accept her recommendation. Where was their due diligence? Certainly the Supervisors’ staff should have researched the issue before accepting her recommendation. Then there is the State Legislature and the Governor. budget 3They are not blameless either. The state legislature created a budget cutting funding used to conduct elections in all counties, including Maricopa County. County officials protested but no one in the legislature listened to them. Governor Ducey signed the state budget that included the reduced funding for county elections. Now the very same people who approved skimping on elections want Purcell’s head. People who live in political glass houses should not be throwing stones.

With all of the light on the situation be assured there will be more places than you can shake a stick at, for the General Election in November.

I promised to include comments I received from my blog readers about Tuesday’s election and I share them with you now:

DiNaslo

“Yesterday I was upset about the loooooooooong lines at Hope Chapel on 63rd Avenue in Glendale.

Today, after watching the news coverage last night, I am FURIOUS!

In the past, I’ve preferred to vote in person rather than use an Early Voting Ballot; I just like to go to my polling place, cast my ballot, and watch them put it in the machine. (I’ve never had too long a wait.)

Thinking this time would be no different, I didn’t request an Early Voting Ballot.

Unfortunately, I have developed a mobility problem that prevents me from standing for long periods of time, and there was no way I was going to be able to stand for 3+ hours in line waiting to vote!

Who would have thought there would be this HUGE fiasco?!

The evening news reported that Maricopa County cut the polling places from 200 (in 2012) to a mere 60 for this very important election!

The news also reported that at some (not all) of the polling places voters who had an Early Ballot, who simply wanted to drop it off, were not told they did not have to stand in the looooooong line. There should have been a volunteer outside (with a bull horn) telling people to go inside and drop off their ballot – but apparently that never happened! Why wasn’t this done? Utter lack of communication!

Not to mention Hope Chapel had only ONE bathroom to accommodate voters who needed to use the facility! Or other polling places running out of ballots!

UNBELIEVABLE!!

In a televised interview with Helen Purcell last night, she made some weak excuse about the reduced number of polling places, and also “blaming” the voter’s lack of information on the resultant loooooooong lines. How dare she!

This morning she stated she would not step down from her position, but I don’t think that should be her decision. She should be removed from her job, based on pure and simple Incompetence! She screwed up, she should pay the price – – as should any of her staff who were compliant in the decision to reduce the number of polling places to be made available to voters!

Sadly, Arizona has made the news – and not in a good way! Once again, we are made to look like a bunch of ignorant, uninformed fools – thanks to the leaders of this State.

You asked for my opinion, Joyce. Well, there you have it!”

Carpenter

“I couldn’t believe there were no polling places in south Glendale. I had an early ballot but when I realized my time frame, I just needed to drop my ballot. Rather than going 10 or 12 miles to the Glendale polling places, I chose to go to the 51st Avenue and Thomas polling place to just leave my ballot. I was shocked that the line went all the way around the building at 10:00 in the morning. I would never have been able to stand there that long. I know of two people for sure that could not take two or three hours to stand in line to cast their ballots. What poor planning for an area that constantly talks about wanting people to get out and vote. I remember years going to vote and my car would be the only one in the parking lot. Sure hope they get this mess worked out before the November election.”

Shelly Honn

“I would not have been able to stand in a 3 hour line having arthritis in both of my knees. I am very glad that I am also receive an early voting ballot. I think this state needs to seriously look at at least two things providing the ability to do online voting ONLY during a certain time frame (like from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. when most people are home) and also putting more polling locations in those areas where it is likely for individuals will not have a way to vote online. This is a complete embarrassment for our state.

It is also an embarrassment to our great country that these 5 individuals are who we have to choose from to become president, its disgusting.”

Tom Traw

“jOYCE, My wife was unable to stand in line for three hours so she did not vote and expect hundreds or thousand of voters who wanted to vote were angry and went home. Helen should probably lose her job over this fiasco. No common sense whatsoever. Our typical politicians for you. I wonder if it was planned by one party or the other????”

The Truth!!

“I am a young person but to stand in line ruined my already marginal feet even more. I was amazed how many people hung in there to use their right to vote.”

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘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 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 material. 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 18 years and 97 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

The Glendale city council meeting of Tuesday, March 22, 2016 was completed in a little over an hour despite an agenda of 41 items, 36 of which were consent agenda or consent resolutions. The only curious item of note was Item 12, Position reclassifications presented by HR Director Jim Brown. There was only one position reclassification requested and that was for the City Attorney’s Office. The request was to create a new title, Senior Assistant City Prosecutor. The reason given for the request was to “realign to better meet department needs.”  Hmmm…it seems a bit strange to bring forward only one position in the organization for reclassification.

The more interesting events of the evening were not formal agenda items. During the public comment portion Bill Dempsky of the Sahuaro district, a regular citizen public speaker, railed about Councilmember Sammy Chavira’s excessive and questionable travel expenses. He cited specific facts about those expenses and commented that Sammy wasted $3,000 of your taxpayer dollars with his constant habit and practice of changing flights.

Sammy has become very nervous about his recent negative press coverage and so, lo and behold, he spoke. At the end of the council meeting during council comments, he pulled his written comments before him and began to read. His comments were carefully worded and it was obvious that Sammy did not write them for he does not speak that well.

He said he always followed the travel policy of the city. He failed to mention that in relation to elected officials whatever policy does exist is non-existent or very weak. We would not expect him to acknowledge that he gamed the system. He can claim he did nothing wrong but the Yucca district voters no longer believe him. One man told me, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. He went on to say appearances are everything and it appears to him that Sammy is using his power and privilege to his advantage, not that of the people.

Chavira had two “fun” trips on his agenda – one to see the Pope in Washington, D.C. on a large screen TV and the other to see his friend and mentor, Ruben Gallego, be installed as a U.S. Congressman. But Sammy had a problem. For you see, he had to make these trips “legitimate.” What to do? Simple, claim some sort of meeting related to city business—with someone, anyone, willing to back up his claim that a city issue was discussed. For all we know the so-called meeting could (and probably was) 5 minutes long but it would have been enough to CYA.

Sammy’s bosses, including the Phoenix Fire Chief, have tacitly acknowledged the impropriety of Sammy’s paying $420 for their seafood and steak dinners by returning their portions of the check (5 Phoenix officials have done so to date) to the City of Glendale. Not only that, but they repaid with personal funds. Has it ever occurred to Sammy that it’s time he repaid the city as well? Probably not.

Sammy went on to say that he supports review of the city’s travel policy and at the April 5, 2016 city council workshop he, personally, would request such a review as an action item for a future city council workshop.

Sammy is definitely scared. He got caught with his hand in the cookie jar and is desperately looking for a way to keep his hand intact. This time it’s not going to work. What Sammy doesn’t realize…yet…is there are a lot of angry voters out there. They were already angry about his lack of accessibility and responsiveness to his constituents; his canceling of scheduled meetings with them; his absences from council meetings; and his lack of communication with the people he was elected to serve. Sammy’s performance as their councilmember has been less than sterling. Now with these new revelations about his use of taxpayer money, they have had enough.

To a majority of Yucca district voters Sammy has exhibited the worst characteristics of an elected politician, with his cronyism, his advocacy of issues in support of his large campaign contributors, his advocacy of more money exclusively for the fire department and his abuse of power. They are disgusted and have had enough. They believe he epitomizes the worst of establishment politicians and they will not vote for him again. They think he represents the cliché of smoked-filled rooms and back deals. They realize that Sammy is not working for them. Rather Sammy is working for Sammy.

All of these reasons…and more…persuaded me to run for the Yucca district council seat: to restore dignity and honor to the position; to research and to question staff thoroughly regarding their policy recommendations; to restore accessibility and communication to the people of the district; and to become an instrument of giving the people of the district their voice back. I ask the people of the Yucca district for their support. I ask for their vote in the August 30, 2016 Primary Election.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘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 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 material. 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 18 years and 97 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

On Tuesday, March 22, 2016 the voters of Maricopa County flocked en masse to county polling locations in the states’ presidential primary election. It turned out to be a nightmare for many voters. I was alerted to the problem when several blog readers called and told me they waited 3 hours to cast a ballot. Here is a photo taken by one of the voters.

South Peoria Baptist Church 9000 W. Olive Ave, Peoria

South Peoria Baptist Church
9000 W. Olive Ave, Peoria

A little reality is in order. On October 15, 2015 the County Recorder’s Office announced that Maricopa County had more than 2 million registered voters. They proudly declared that Maricopa County has the third-highest registration rate in the country. Maricopa County is just behind Los Angeles County, California and Harris County, Texas. We witnessed state after state announcing that voter turnouts for presidential primaries have been record breaking, ranging in a 40% to 80% increase since 2012.

The County Recorder’s Office had about 5 months to prepare for the perfect storm of an increase in the number of registered voters and an expected increase in turnout of anywhere from 40% to 80%. Did they prepare adequately? Apparently not.

Glendale has about 50 precincts. Do you know how many polling locations there were in Glendale? Two…just two, the Happy Valley Church at 24220 N. 43rd Avenue and the Hope Chapel at 17417 N. 63rd Avenue. Both locations were in North Glendale. I guess the rest of Glendale was chopped liver. Glendale has a population of nearly 250,000 and an estimated 70,000 registered voters. Somehow two polling locations in North Glendale don’t seem to serve the public very well.

If you think Peoria had it better you would be correct. With a smaller population and smaller number of registered voters Peoria had 3 polling locations. The County Recorder’s Office had a total of 60 polling locations for a county with a population of 4.09 million and a self-proclaimed registration of over 2 million voters. That means each polling location in the county had to process an estimated 33,000 voters at each of its 60 locations. Granted some locations had more and some had less activity. However, it doesn’t seem that any of the locations would have the capacity to handle 33,000 voters at the rate of 2,750 voters per hour. Thank goodness for Early Voting ballots or there might have been riots. Many voters, like me and my family, used our Permanent Early Voting ballots. That would have taken some of the pressure away from the polling locations. However, there’s nothing that discourages a voter more than waiting hours to vote. What was the County Recorder’s Office thinking?

If you voted today, what was your experience at your polling location? Send a comment and I’ll make sure it is shared with my readers.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘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 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 material. 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 18 years and 95 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

PLEASE NOTE: To the left of this blog you will see how you can donate to my campaign. You may write a check and mail it to me or you may use the PayPal button. Sammy already has a war chest of $16,000+. The last campaign contribution he received was in December of 2015, 3 months ago, from…yep, Mark Becker of Becker Billboards in the amount of $5,000. Becker tried to get his billboards sited in north Glendale at Arrowhead.

Any amount is gratefully accepted from $5 to $5,000. You must include your name, your address, your employer and your job title. That is required by law. Donations from companies and corporations are prohibited. You do not have to live in the Yucca district, or Glendale, or the state of Arizona or even the United States to make a donation. Please take a moment to help me to regain the City Council seat representing the Yucca district and to “get their voice back.”

Sammy’s invisibility continues. Paul Giblin wrote an article on March 19, 2016, entitled Glendale expenses get more scrutiny. It is not online as of this date so no link to the story is provided. In it Giblin says, “Chavira declined to discuss the matter (of council’s plan to hold a workshop on travel expenses) after a City Council work session Tuesday, his first public appearance at City Hall since returning from another trip to Washington to attend a National League of Cities conference. Chavira previously said in an email that all of the trips he expensed were for legitimate purposes.”

In another Paul Giblin story he reports on the election rematch for the Yucca district council seat between Sammy and me, saying, “Chavira has been less public about his intentions (regarding his campaign for his seat). He did not return messages from The Arizona Republic and his campaign website and Twitter account were silent on the matter Monday.” Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/03/15/sammy-chavira-joyce-clark-could-have-council-election-rematch-glendale/81590186/ .

Interesting observations emerge from Sammy’s quotes. He says his trips were for “legitimate purposes.” Of course he does. What else can he possibly say? It’s perfectly legitimate for Sammy to fly to D.C. and watch the Pope on a large screen TV…but not on the taxpayers’ dime. It’s perfectly legitimate for Sammy to fly to D.C. to watch his buddy and mentor, Rueben Gallego, get sworn in as a U.S. Representative…but not on the taxpayers’ dime. It is never legitimate to use one’s position and power to host a dinner and curry favor with one’s bosses…especially on the taxpayers’ dime.

Sammy requested and received City Attorney Michael Bailey’s opinion that Sammy’s expenses did not violate any law. I bet that statement was well crafted and carefully worded. Well, of course one would expect Sammy to request that from Bailey and Bailey would comply. After all, Bailey’s bosses are the councilmembers and he serves at their pleasure. It wouldn’t do to make one of them angry.

I have been an incumbent and I have been the opponent of an incumbent when running for the Yucca council seat. Let me tell you, City Hall does protect the incumbent in a myriad of very subtle ways. Be warned — City Hall, this election cycle. City policy is that a councilmember may not take advantage of city resources, such as appearing on the City’s cable channel, six months before an election. The primary election is in on August 30, 2016.  As of February 29, 2016 the six month restriction began. A councilmember may not use city resources, financial or otherwise, for district newsletters, any sort of mailing or event if it has not been the habit and practice of the councilmember during the entire course of a person’s term. Sammy cannot use city resources to send out a special mailing or newsletter or to host an event between now and the Primary because he has never done it during his term of office. He may continue his Friday e-newsletters as they have been produced for him since he took office.

The other observation is Sammy’s remarkable disappearance and utter silence. Many Yucca district residents are saying that since Sammy has no good defense for his actions he seems to be saying even less than his usual “thank you” and has disappeared.  That’s not a new stance for Sammy. In the past year he was AWOL from nearly a dozen council meetings or workshop meetings. There were some other instances when he participated telephonically or when he arrived late for a meeting. Sammy hasn’t exactly been on the job lately.

Other residents believe Sammy is scared realizing that he’s in a heap of political “do-do.” Some feel he is being deliberately invisible in the hopes that this will blow over by election time. That’s not going to happen. Every Yucca district voter deserves to know that Sammy’s travel expenses and his other decisions or actions, at the very least, constitute an abuse of trust voters placed in him. Yucca district deserves better. Residents want to “get their voice back.”

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘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 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 material. 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 18 years and 94 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

On March 19, 2016, Paul Giblin’s article is entitled Glendale expenses get more scrutiny. It is not online as of this date so no link to the story is provided. In his article Giblin solicits reaction to Chavira’s questionable travel expenses from his peers…the Glendale city councilmembers. Giblin reports, “Sammy Chavira’s colleagues on the Glendale City Council said this week they want to strengthen the city’s travel policy following reporting by the Arizona Republic on Chavira’s travel expenses.”

Mayor Weiers said, “‘We’re going to have to do something. Weiers said one option to tighten the travel policy would be to require councilmembers to use personal credit cards, rather than city-issued cards, for all city-related travel. If you want to be reimbursed, then you have to provide us with all the information – who, what, when, why, where. If you don’t provide that, then you’re not going to get reimbursed,’ he said.”

A majority of councilmembers have said this is a future public city council workshop topic of discussion. Silent on the issue were Councilmember Chavira and Councilmember Aldama. “Vice Mayor Ian Hugh and City Council members Lauren Tolmachoff and Bart Turner told The Republic they expect a formal discussion at a public meeting about improving the city’s travel policy for elected officials.”

The reactions from various councilmembers are varied. “Hugh said he is opposed to granting council members authority to approve or disapprove of each other’s trips.” Frankly I agree with his assessment. In towns and cities there are councilmembers who don’t like each other, don’t get along with each other and may downright hate each other. In most cases, the public is never aware of councilmembers’ animosity toward one another because publicly they remain polite to one another. Political animosity (or even revenge) would be a constant threat if councilmembers’ had the power to approve or disapprove of one another’s expenses.

“‘Council members should be held to at least the same standard as rank-and-file city employees,’ Tolmachoff said.” Councilmember Tolmachoff almost got it. Councilmembers should not be held to the same standards as other city employees. They should be held to the highest standard. They should be a model for all employees to follow. Councilmembers are in a unique position. There are only 7 of them elected by the people of Glendale. There is no comparable position in Glendale. That makes them unique. Their major responsibility is to develop all policy for the city. It is an enormous task requiring their best efforts and a commitment to impartiality. It is their responsibility to strive to be above reproach at all times and in all instances.

Councilmember Ray Malnar thinks that a periodic audit of councilmembers’ use of their expense accounts is in order. “Periodic audits of council members’ expenses would help keep members attuned to existing guidelines, Malnar said. ‘There’s always the ability, no matter what kind of controls you have in place, for abuse. And a lot of it is a matter of trust and follow-up.’ he said.” It is a solid suggestion. It bears serious consideration and has the appeal of having a councilmember’s expenses related to his or her budgets scrutinized on a regular basis.

Councilmember Turner, surprisingly, offered very little concern about councilmembers’ travel expenses and instead focused on lost receipts. “Turner said he’s interested in reviewing the city’s policy for lost receipts and perhaps capping the amount allowable for reimbursement using lost-receipt forms.There’s no transparency around a lost receipt, and I think we owe it to our taxpayers to be as transparent as possible,’ Turner said.”

From the councilmembers’ comments two viable themes emerged. Councilmember Malnar suggested audits. If such audits are not publicly posted prominently and instead are buried in the bowels of city hall paperwork, what good is an audit? Councilmember Turner made reference to transparency. However, currently there is no transparency related to any expense incurred by a councilmember. Why tailor transparency narrowly to a lost-receipt? It’s illogical. Transparency only serves the public interest when it brings to light a practice formerly buried and generalized in the city’s annual budget book.

Perhaps audits and transparency should be used in tandem. City councilmembers should consider revising their policy to include an annual audit performed by Glendale’s Audit Office of both their communications/professional development budget and their infrastructure improvements budget to be completed by October 1 of every year. I can hear the City Auditor now saying that it is an onerous burden upon her department. It is not unreasonable. Each councilmember’s two budgets total approximately $35,000 a year. They are simplistic and not as complicated as one would find in auditing an entire city department comprised of millions of dollars. They could be completed quickly and would not require an inordinate amount of audit staff’s time.

These audits should be posted in each councilmember’s Friday e-newsletter no later than the end of each October. If a councilmember had to publicly announce what expenditures he or she made during the course of a year it would constantly reinforce the concept that each and every dollar is a taxpayer dollar and not “theirs.” This is a reasonable policy. It would create an unmatched level of transparency for Glendale’s citizens. Glendale would be the first city in the state to adopt such a model and it is expected it would cause other cities to follow suit. It would have the effect of helping the public to determine if a councilmember was making effective and ethical use of their taxpayer dollars. It would certainly be a breath of political fresh air.

In the meantime, Giblin reported, “While Glendale officials talked about Chavira’s expenditures, Phoenix officials acted on them. Phoenix officials submitted five checks to Glendale on March 9 to reimburse the city for their portions of the seafood dinner, said Glendale spokeswoman Sue Breding.” Obviously these Phoenix officials, such as the Phoenix Fire Chief, by reimbursing the city, are tacitly acknowledging that Chavira’s payment for their dinners was inappropriate. That cannot be good for Chavira who keeps repeating that he did nothing wrong. Perhaps he’s hoping if he repeats it often enough people will believe him…Hmmm, I think not. I wonder if former Glendale Fire Chief Mark Burdick or Phoenix Councilmember Danny Valenzuela (who happens to be a Glendale fire fighter) reimbursed Glendale. There’s no way to know as that information is not forthcoming.

Come on, Glendale councilmembers, think outside the box. Develop a policy that sheds light on the issue for all of Glendale’s taxpayers. After all, it’s not about you. It’s about the citizens and city that you are elected to serve.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘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 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 material. 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 18 years and 92 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

The media recently reported on Sammy’s questionable spending of tax dollars for trips and meals. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/03/04/glendale-councilman-sammy-chavira-charges-24k-trips-3-years-taxpayers/78857734/ .

During my 16 years of service as your Yucca district councilmember I spent your tax dollars on pilot projects for the benefit of the entire city and infrastructure improvements in the district. I always tried to be mindful of the fact that it wasn’t my money but the people’s money.

Councilmembers have 2 discretionary accounts. One is for communications/professional development  and the other is for district improvements. I can’t remember every project or improvement but here are examples of how I used your tax dollars:

  • In 1995 I spent $1,387.57 for street identification signs as a pilot project in my district. They are placed lower than most city signs and a hundred feet or so before
    Street identification signs

    Street identification signs

    major intersections. Their purpose was to announce to the driver what street they were approaching. I saw them on trips to Tucson and thought they were very useful while driving in an unfamiliar town. It was a pilot program adopted by the city and today you can see them all over town.

  • That same year I placed two, recycled plastic gazebos, benches and waste receptacles for approximately $2000 each; one in Windsor Park and one in Pasadena Park. The
    Recycled plastic gazebo

    Recycled plastic gazebo

    photo I am using is of a much more elegant gazebo than the ones from 20 years ago. They lasted for quite some time (approx. 15 years) but eventually after years of use they became beyond repair and were removed.

  • In 2002 for $14,356.52 a radar speed trailer was purchased and donated to the Glendale Police Department with the agreement that Yucca district neighborhoodsradar-trailers222[1] could request its use at any time. That same year $2,109.00 went for sidewalk installation and repair for Desert Mirage Park.
  • In 2003 $3,000 was used to purchase an Advanced Life Support Unit for the Glendale Fire Department.
  • In 2008 a surveillance camera was purchased for approximately $1,500 for use in the Grand Canal Linear Park. It was another pilot project designed to improve security and I worked very closely with the manufacturing company. Unfortunately, it did not live up to its claims and was returned with the money being reimbursed.
  • In 2010 in another pilot project, 6 e-book tablets, were purchased (I no longer remember the exact purchase price but it would have been approximately $600 each) and lent to Yucca district residents for several weeks at a time. The purpose was to find out how well they would be received and how easy or difficult they were to use to access the library system to download and read books. They were a hit and were donated to the Glendale library system. The concept was adopted but I am sure the original tablets are so out of date technologically that they are no longer in use.
  • That same year approximately $5,000 was spent to place a graveled gecko design in a retention basin along 83rd Avenue. There are 3 retention basins of just dirt that are the responsibility of the city on the east side of 83rd Avenue between Camelback and Bethany Home Road. Two of them remain as dirt basins to this day.

I did attend National League of Cities Conventions out-of-town or within Arizona. Travel costs averaged between $600 to $900 with the largest expense being a hotel room and registration for a convention. I also was on the League’s Public Safety Steering Policy Committee that generally met an additional two times per year.

I communicated with constituents on a regular basis. I issued two district newsletters per year (spring and fall) at a cost of approximately $5,000 per newsletter. The major costs were printing and postage. I also held a minimum of 2 district meetings per year. Costs for those meetings ranged between $50 to $300. If a school charged a room rental the cost was generally in the $250 range. No more than $50 was used to purchase refreshments for the attending citizens.

My expenditures of your tax dollars as a councilmember were used to promote innovation as pilot projects, to improve district infrastructure or to communicate with constituents on a regular basis. That is quite a contrast to Sammy’s use of your money to travel to D.C. to see the Pope on a TV screen or buying $400 dinners for his bosses including the Phoenix Fire Chief or spending $8,000 on a failed Watermelon Festival.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘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 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 material. 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 18 years and 90 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

In Paul Giblin’s March 4, 2016 Arizona Republic story about Councilmember Chavira he wrote: Concerning the California trips, Chavira noted in expense records that the purpose for a trip to Montebello, Calif., in November 2015 was ‘Economic Development-grid projects & special events in CA.’

He wrote that the reason for a trip to West Covina, Calif., in October 2015 was ‘Light Rail and bring LA restaurant to CB Ranch in CA,’ a reference to Glendale’s spring-training park Camelback Ranch.

“In his email to The Republic, Chavira stated that the trips combined multiple opportunities.

“‘I met with the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), which is an excellent model for innovation and entrepreneurship that I hope to implement in Glendale. Additionally, these two trips involved meetings with a number of political and sports-world leaders concerning the possibility of partnerships back home in Glendale,’ he stated.

“Chavira did not include names of business, political and sports leaders with whom he met. Officials with the clean-tech concern did not return messages about the matter.

“The October 2015 trip followed an introduction Chavira facilitated between Glendale resident Luis De La Cruz and officials at Glendale’s spring-training stadium.

“De La Cruz is the majority owner of Manuel’s Original El Tepeyac Café, a Los Angeles restaurant known for its five-pound burrito. During the meeting, De La Cruz proposed the idea of El Tepeyac selling items at Camelback Ranch stadium, according to De La Cruz and stadium President Jeff Overton.

“The group met at Camelback Ranch on Sept. 1, 2015, but no deals were struck. In October, Chavira sampled the food at El Tepeyac in Los Angeles and De La Cruz introduced him to officials at the clean-tech incubator, De La Cruz said in an interview.

“The Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox play spring-training games at Camelback Ranch.

Brian Friedman, the city’s economic-development director, said he did not accompany Chavira on the trips and that the councilman didn’t coordinate with him about them. Friedman said he is unfamiliar with the term ‘grid projects.’ “ Here is the link to Giblin’s entire article: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/03/04/glendale-councilman-sammy-chavira-charges-24k-trips-3-years-taxpayers/78857734/ .

There’s more to the Luis De La Cruz and Chavira connection. In Chavira’s 2012 run for his council seat Luis De La Cruz co-hosted a $100 a person fundraiser at Bitzee Mama’s for Sammy. They appear to have been friends since at least 2012 when the fundraiser occurred. De La Cruz, in addition to being a majority owner of El Tepeyac Café is also a director of Andale Construction located in Buckeye and Andale Towers located in Phoenix. Chavira seems to aspire running with those who have money and lots of it.

Chavira offered Giblin no back up information for his California trip other than a rather general statement of creating partnerships.  Could he have been there for another purpose? As Giblin reports Chavira did not offer specific information on who he met on this trip. Why travel to California to see a man who lives in Glendale? There has been unsubstantiated speculation that Sammy may have taken this trip primarily to attend a sporting event. Who knows?

Chavira’s explanation for all of his questionable trips to Washington, D.C. and to California was that he was there on city business as well. To the general public it appears that Sammy went on “fun” trips such as seeing Pope Francis on a big screen TV and attending his buddy’s, Ruben Gallego, installation as a Congressman and then to cover his butt made the assertion that he also attended meetings to benefit Glendale. No one is buying his explanation. No one, not the Mayor or other councilmembers have behaved in this fashion.

More troubling is Sammy’s habit and pattern of repaying “favors” to large benefactors supporting his run for office. Is it coincidence that Mark Becker of Becker Billboards made a substantial contribution to Sammy’s campaign and Sammy supported Becker’s request for billboards in north Glendale during, at the very least, one council meeting? Is it coincidence that an attorney for IceArizona made several hundred dollars in contributions to Sammy’s campaign and then Sammy voted for the deal even though he ran on a platform of no more bad (financial) deals for Glendale? Apparently he didn’t think Glendale’s payment of $15 million a year to IceArizona as a management fee was a bad deal. He did not support the canceling of IceArizona’s contract with the city and did not support the city’s issuance of a request for bids to manage the city’s arena.

In response to reading Paul Giblin’s report on Chavira’s trips A Letter to the Editor written by Ron Myers, Constable at Arrowhead Justice Precinct was published. Here is the full text:

“As an elected public official in Maricopa County who lives in Glendale, I am appalled and dismayed to read a story in The Republic that Glendale City Councilman Chavira has abused the trust of the taxpayers in Glendale by spending lavishly on questionable trips and meals charged to his expense account that we all pay for.

What possible city business could it be for him to fly to Washington, D.C., to observe the Pope’s speech on a TV monitor or to watch his friend get sworn in as a congressman? Does he really think he can justify spending over $400 on dinner for his superiors in the Phoenix Fire Department while out of town?

The City of Glendale takes one more black eye from out-of-control politicians. Shame on him and shame on the City of Glendale for allowing this fraud and abuse.”

— Ron Myers, constable

Arrowhead Justice Precinct

Glendale

Chavira’s ethics while serving as an elected official have called into question his fitness to serve. From all appearances he has done “favors” for those who supported him substantially in his run for council. Current news reports question Chavira’s abuse of Glendale’s citizens’ trust by using taxpayer dollars to fund his jaunts. Hopefully the current city council will institute policy to oversee their use of taxpayer dollars for travel. Disappointingly it appears that some councilmembers believe that Sammy “did nothing wrong.” If that is true, perhaps it will call into question their ethical decision making skills as well.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘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 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 material. 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 18 years and 90 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.
On March 15, 2016 the Glendale city council held a Budget Workshop meeting to discuss the Fiscal Year 2016-17 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). As an aside, Councilmember Chavira arrived at 9:30 AM, a half hour late and offered not one original thought other than to thank staff for their presentations.
This can be a complicated issue but let’s try to break it down. The CIP is Glendale’s plan for future, major infrastructure projects. These are projects that cost more than $50,000 and have a useful life span of at least 5 years. Just a few examples are: fire and police stations, libraries, roads, flood control and the purchase of sanitation trucks to fire engines. It is a ten year plan but only the first five years of the plan have any money attached to the proposed projects because the funding for them has been identified. The last five years of the plan are a wish list and have no money earmarked to support them.
It is a very, very important component of Glendale’s budget and at times projects within it serve political interests. Each councilmember has the opportunity to advocate for a project that will be located within his or her district.
How are CIP projects paid for? Here are the sources to repay bonds issued for CIP project: 

  • Enterprise Funds are the largest component at 66% and this is because many CIP project are big ticket items related to water, sewer or sanitation;
  • next are General Obligation Bonds (GO) at 15% and are repaid through secondary property taxes that flow into the city’s General Fund;
  • Highway User Revenue Funds or HURF make up 5%. These funds are state shared revenue and come from the tax you pay on a gallon of gasoline;
  • then there is the Transportation Fund of 5%. This fund was born in 2002 when the voters of Glendale approved a small sales tax increase to set aside strictly for transportation related projects;
  • Grant funds make up 4%;
  • Occasionally the city will pay cash for a project and this makes up 2% as a CIP funding source;
  • Lastly are Development Impact Fees (DIF) at 3%. Not going into the weeds too deeply on this, these are assessments that are paid by new construction of homes and commercial buildings. It is highly regulated by the state as to the amount that can be collected and what projects can be funded.

To further complicate the issue the state has divided General Obligation bonds (GO) into two categories: 6% and 20%. 6% GO bonds can be used for economic development, a cultural facility, a government facility and libraries. 20% GO bonds are used for flood control, open space & trails, parks, public safety, streets & parking and water and sewer projects.
Now that you are thoroughly confused, what’s in Glendale’s CIP for Fiscal Year 2016-17, the upcoming fiscal year that starts on July 1, 2016? The big ticket items are Parking Lot P-1 in the amount of $6 million and Parking Lot P-2 in the amount of $10.5 million. These 2 projects will be funded with GO bonds repaid through the city’s General Fund. What are these parking lots? If you recall, the city paid $22 million for land adjacent to the University of Phoenix Stadium to be used for parking necessary to meet the obligations of an agreement between the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority (AZSTA),the Cardinals and the city. Parking Lot P-1 for $6 million will definitely move forward immediately. Parking Lot P-2 for $10.5 million will only be built if senior staff finds it necessary to completely meet the mandatory number of parking spaces to which the city is obligated to provide.

 

The two other big ticket CIP projects for FY 2016-17 are the Pyramid Peak Water Treatment Plant improvements for $15.2 million and the Arrowhead Water Reclamation Facility improvements for $25.4 million. These will be funded through Enterprise Fund revenue bonds. Lastly $7 million will be spent for street improvements funded through the Transportation Fund.
To review these are the projects in the Fiscal Year budget of 2016-17 that begins on July 1, 2016:
• Bond Construction Funds will cover $7 million to improve the city’s streets.
• DIF Funds will partially fund the temporary West Branch library in the amount of $600,000+.
• Enterprise Revenue Bonds will pay $15.2 million and $25.4 for water improvements
• GO Bonds will pay for two parking lots, in the amount of $6 million and $10.5 million. That’s it. These are the major infrastructure projects slated for FY 2016-17. There are lesser amounts for the scalloped street program and infill street light program as examples.
Criteria for determining whether a project is eligible for the CIP are extensive. However, there are 3 criteria worthy of mention:
• “Does a project support the city’s goal of ensuring all geographic areas of the city have comparable quality in the types of services that are defined in the Public Facilities section of the General Plan”
• “Does a project prevent the deterioration of the city’s existing infrastructure?”
• “Does a project encourage and sustain quality economic development?”
These criteria are noteworthy in terms of 2 ongoing issues: the Western Area Branch Library and O’Neil pool. In the proposed FY 2016-17 CIP funds are earmarked for a temporary branch library of 7,500 SF to serve south and west Glendale. It is a travesty. Northern Glendale has the Foothills Branch Library ( 34,000 SF) and central Glendale has the Main Library (64,000 SF). Downtown Glendale has the 15,000 SF Velma Teague Branch Library built in 1971, forty four years ago. A 7,500 SF modular building as a temporary library branch serving south and west Glendale does not even come close to meeting, “Does a project support the city’s goal of ensuring all geographic areas of the city have comparable quality…” What a joke. Nor does this temporary building meet “Does a project encourage and sustain quality economic development?”
Currently the area of major, economic development is the Westgate area in west Glendale. Exactly how does a temporary 7,500 SF modular library building (½ the size of Velma Teague, which is SMALL; ¼ the size of Foothills Branch Library; and 1/10 the size of the Main Library) enhance “comparable quality” and “economic development?” Not to mention Heroes Park in west Glendale. It is 88 acres in size with approximately 20 developed acres. The rest of the park is a barren, dirt and weed filled wasteland. How does this park meet those criteria? Have you seen the parks the City of Peoria has recently built? Not only are they numerous they are gorgeous and put Glendale to shame.
Another issue that surfaced was that of O’Neil Pool located at 6500 W. Missouri Avenue. The surrounding square mile is known as the O’Neil Ranch Area. Its population is one of, if not, the densest in the city. There are 2,000 children in that square mile attending William C. Jack Elementary School and Mensendick Middle School. Up until 5 years ago these kids had O’Neil pool as a major recreational opportunity. The pool developed some cracks and leaks and was closed. A Parks & Recreation study was then done to measure the attendance but by that time kids had to be bused to the Rose Lane Pool. Obviously, the recorded attendance was low and was used to justify a staff recommendation that the pool not be repaired and the area be repurposed. Another joke. O’Neil must be repaired and reopened to service those kids. This is not an affluent area of town and has often been ignored. An overwhelming majority of the over 1,300 homes and 7 apartment complexes in the adjacent area do not have swimming pools. The ratio of residential swimming pools is one of the lowest in the city. As city criteria states, “Does the project prevent the deterioration of the city’s existing infrastructure?”
There is one more piece of bad news associated with the CIP. It is not until 2022, 8 more years, that there is GO bond debt capacity for new projects. Yet Tom Duensing, the Assistant City Manager, recently found GO bond debt capacity in the amount of $32 million to buy land and building a parking lot to satisfy the Arizona Cardinals and AZSTA. It’s time he turned to the needs of our residents and found GO bond debt capacity for these much needed projects.
It is incumbent upon the current city council, Mayor Jerry Weiers, Vice Mayor Ian Hugh, and Councilmembers Turner, Tolmachoff, Malnar, Aldama and Chavira to insure that a comparable quality of amenities exist in all parts of our city, including south and west Glendale by building a permanent Western Area Branch Library (overdue for 18+ years), completing the development of Heroes Park (also overdue for 18+ years) and repairing and reopening O’Neil Pool (overdue for 5+ years).
© Joyce Clark, 2016
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