Jamsheed Mehta, Executive Director of Transportation, and briefly Interim Assistant City Manager for the City of Glendale is leaving on March 12, 2014 to serve the City of Marana. Jamsheed has been with the city since 2005 and in that period his quiet intelligence and competence has served the city and him well. It is disappointing to see that he did not receive the appointment as Assistant City Manager.
His departure may very well be a precursor to the exodus of other talented employees who see the handwriting on the wall under the current regime. Many have indicated their concern as City Manager Brenda Fischer (from the Town of Maricopa) surrounds herself with Town of Maricopa cronies or Glendale employees with questionable resumes earned under the tutelage of former City Manager Ed Beasley.
There is now a readily identified coalition within councilmember ranks that form a majority on most issues. It consists of Vice Mayor Knaack and Councilmembers Sherwood, Martinez and Chavira. The minority is Mayor Weiers and Councilmembers Hugh and Alvarez.
It is not so surprising that Knaack and Martinez would join with Sherwood and Chavira. Some have speculated that both are tired, burnt out and so have opted for the path of least resistance. Both will not be running for reelection and have blessed others to take their places. Martinez has endorsed Robert Petrone, seemingly a man of questionable substance considering his financial past. Knaack is rumored to pass her legacy on to Bill Toops, owner/publisher of the Glendale Star. A man who could experience conflict from the very start, if he runs and is successful in getting elected, as he tries to serve two masters: the paper which provides him income and a city which in the past has often dismissed his paper’s relevance.
Weiers has got to find a way to raise his visibility as Glendale’s mayor in the community. It’s a problem that all mayors in Glendale have had. It used to drive former Mayor Scruggs nuts. In poll after poll, most respondents could not name her as mayor and when they did, they often mispronounced her name as Scaggs or Shruggs. Weiers may be taking actions that are good for Glendale but unfortunately no one knows what they are. He should be wary of Councilmember Sherwood’s ambition.
It is said that Sherwood is in his office in City Hall every day and has de facto assumed the role of Mayor. Why not? Sherwood has the ear of the City Manager. Sherwood is riding high these days with 3 other votes behind him but fortunes can change on a dime. One of his more questionable actions was to actively insert himself into the selection process for a new City Manager. It is said that he met privately, one-on-one, with Ms. Fischer during the process and then actively solicited support of the other councilmembers for her acceptance. There is nothing illegal about his action but ethically it is highly unorthodox. No other councilmember in memory has ever had a private, one-on one with a potential City Manager candidate and then actively lobbied for same.
Everyone acknowledges that Fischer owes Sherwood big time for her hiring. Also of note is Fischer’s spouse is either still a fire fighter in Henderson, NV or was a fire fighter there for years. Add to that Frisoni’s spouse is or was a police officer. Will these relationships color their actions toward public safety? We may have seen it already as one of Fischer’s first actions was to bring the fire department deficit before council allowing it to receive additional funding. No other department received that kind of consideration.
Chavira, on the other hand, appears to be silent, nearly invisible, merely along for the ride, cutting the best deals that he can for him and his fire department union buddies. That is not surprising either as we have seen questionable fire union actions involving his participation prior to his successful bid for a council seat. Alvarez’ past actions and record make her irrelevant. She has a record of contributing little or nothing to crafting solutions. Hugh, on the other hand, has an opportunity to break out. There have been a few flashes when he has spoken that give hint to a thoughtful man.
Based upon the current political landscape where is Glendale headed? Perhaps down the proverbial rabbit hole where “up “is “down” and “down” is “up.” Glendale appears to have two paths before it: Bankruptcy where city debt and rising O&M expenses are so high that no amount of palliative change orchestrated by Fischer, et.al., can save it; or a Glendale saved from falling over the cliff but divested of all that we love about it, lean and mean, soulless but saved.
© Joyce Clark, 2014
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