The Glendale City Council meeting of February 25, 2014 was contentious. Everything was truckin’ along until Item 19, the billboard issue. Whoa…not so fast! The council vote was tabled. It was widely assumed that Councilmember Sherwood had the votes to ram it through. It turns out that was not the case. Somewhere along the way he, Rose Law (applicant’s representative) and Becker (applicant) realized the votes were not there. Their fall back plan was to table, hopefully providing them more time to bring reluctant councilmembers into the fold. The vote to table and bring to a council workshop on March 18 and council meeting on March 25 was 5 to 2. Vice Mayor Knaack voted “No” and observed that this issue was “being pushed out until the answer changes.” Councilmember Martinez also voted “No” and said the move smacked of “desperate measures.” Weiers, Sherwood, Alvarez, Hugh and Chavira voted “Yes.”

There were at least a dozen or more citizens there to voice their opposition to the billboards. Sherwood, in the past, characterized the billboard opposition as “a minority.” Not so. It’s usually the case that every citizen that takes the time to get actively involved in an issue represents a large segment of silent citizens. 

Most of the public stayed until the end of the council meeting to express their dismay with council’s non-action. Michele Tennyson from the Cholla district expressed their collective sentiment quite well. Ms. Tennyson had served on a city council in Mill Creek, Washington and after locating to Glendale, served on various Glendale boards and commissions. She obviously knows how political games are played. She said she was “ashamed” by council’s conduct and decision to table the issue. She related the timeline and history of actions taken. She made it quite clear that there was no reason to delay an up or down vote. Ann Berman, a Sahuaro district resident, said “Sherwood seems to have made a decision” and alluded to the fact that it is not in the public’s favor. Others pointed out that the next scheduled council vote would occur during Spring Break when many people take the opportunity to go out-of-town. Clearly the residents of the Sahuaro and Cholla districts, directly affected by the erection of these billboards, do not want them.

During the council comment period at the end of the meeting those who spoke offered hints regarding their positions on the issue. Councilmember Sherwood attempted to explain why it was necessary to table the billboard issue. Councilmember Alvarez told the citizens that they need “to make the council accountable.”  Councilmember Martinez characterized council’s actions as “blatant” and “a slap in the face” to the decisions already made by the citizen Planning Commission and staff. Vice Mayor Knaack described it as “unforgiveable” to disregard the Planning Commission’s decision.

Others were silent about that issue but offered a wide range of comments on other topics. Sherwood, Chavira and Knaack voiced their opposition to SB 1062 (although Knaack cited the wrong bill number). Several thanked Executive Directors of Communication/Marketing and Transportation, Jerry McCoy and Jamsheed Mehta, for their service as they move to take positions with other cities. Mayor Weiers characterized it as a “brain drain.” That is exactly what it is. We continue to lose the best and brightest and their historical memory of previous city action. Jamsheed Mehta should have been appointed as an Assistant City Manager.  Councilmember Chavira, always reluctant to take a position on anything unless cleared by his handlers, thanked everyone for everything. During the Public Comment period Arthur Thruston spoke of Ken Jones’ contribution to Glendale via his activism on issues and asked for special council recognition for him.  Some of the councilmembers publicly thanked Ken Jones for his participation in Glendale’s civic life. Will he get a plaque for his activism? No. It would set a precedent and create untold controversy as to which citizens would merit such recognition.  I have never agreed with Mr. Jones’ positions on any Glendale issue but he has earned my respect and thanks for his avid activism. There should be more Ken Jones in Glendale, not necessarily sharing his point of view but willing to speak and stand for those things in which they believe. Thank you, Mr. Jones.

© Joyce Clark, 2014


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