During my 16 years of service to Glendale as a councilmember I would often ask questions of staff members. I suspect that I became infamous among staff for my “curious questions.”
No matter how consequential or inconsequential my question(s), it and the answers were routinely copied to the mayor and all councilmembers. I was told repeatedly that all councilmembers should have the same information and that staff was obligated to treat and inform all councilmembers equally. This was habit and practice for years before I became a councilmember and up until January of 2013.
I was quite surprised to recently receive some emails “over the transom” that violated this long standing policy. These emails make it evident that with the advent of City Manager Brenda Fischer and her handpicked crew this policy is no longer being followed. The emails I received predated the council approval of the IceArizona arena lease agreement. It is clear from the senders and recipients that the policy of distribution to the mayor and all councilmembers was deliberately ignored in an effort to provide information to supporters of the deal and to deny the very same information to those councilmembers recognized as opposed to the deal.
One email from Julie Frisoni dated Wednesday, June 26, 2013 9:09 AM was sent to Councilmembers Martinez, Knaack and Sherwood. In it Ms. Frisoni forwarded a response from Tom Hocking on an arena operating cost question. It was not sent to Mayor Weiers or Councilmembers Hugh, Alvarez or Chavira. Apparently it was information Ms. Frisoni felt would assist those in support of the deal and was withheld from those in opposition.
Yet another email from Frisoni dated Sunday, June 30, 2013 10:34 PM was sent to Councilmembers Sherwood, Chavira, Knaack and Martinez. In it Ms. Frisoni forwarded talking points on the benefits of an anchor tenant at the arena prepared by Jeff Teetsel, Credit Suisse’s Manager of Westgate. Once again the information would assist only those in favor of the deal. It was not sent to Mayor Weiers or Councilmembers Hugh or Alvarez.
Ms. Frisoni is not the only current or former staff member to violate this policy. Craig Tindall, IceArizona’s Counsel and Glendale’s former City Attorney, sent an email to Councilmembers Sherwood, Knaack and Martinez dated Friday, June 28, 2013 8:04 AM which explained why the deal would no longer be a management agreement but would be a lease agreement. You would think that the city’s former Attorney would know better.
You can be sure there are far more emails floating through city hall that offer information to selected councilmembers in support of an issue and denied to others perceived as being in opposition. These emails are illustrative of an attitude prevalent beginning with City Manager Fischer and working down through the entire organization. It is a cancer causing distrust and divisiveness not only among elected officials but throughout the organization. It creates classes of “haves” and “have nots.” If there is a pattern of violating this ethic, it leads one to ask what other situational ethical tenets are being ignored?
Tenet #5 of the International City Managers Association (ICMA) states, “Submit policy proposals to elected officials; provide them with facts and advice on matters of policy as a basis for making decisions and setting community goals; and uphold and implement local government policies adopted by elected officials.” It does not say to submit policy proposals to selected elected members. It does not say that all councilmembers are not equal and some deserve more information than others. There is an atmosphere of corrosiveness eating away at Glendale City Hall that City Manager Fischer has a responsibility to eradicate for she is ultimately responsible as the top manager of Glendale’s government.
© Joyce Clark, 2014
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