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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

An anniversary

Posted by Joyce Clark on February 11, 2014
Posted in Blogs  | Tagged With: , , , | 5 Comments

Today, February 11, 2014 marks the first year anniversary of my blog with over 92,000 reads. There have been 218 posts with over 651 comments offered. I started writing shortly after I left city council on January 15, 2013. My motive was to provide you, the reader, information on Glendale issues from my perspective as a former councilmember. This forum has provided me the opportunity to write with no holds barred and no punches pulled. I am very grateful that I have been able to do so and surprised and amazed that so many have taken the time to visit my blog.

Your comments, generally, have been very insightful and thought provoking. I welcome any and all comments as long as they are respectful. So, if you have never commented, give it a shot. Nearly 100 people have signed up for email notification each time I post. If you would like to know when I have posted, check the upper right side of this column to sign up.

My informal polls have been very popular. When they began only a few would take the time to vote on the question posed. Now a hundred or more respondents will vote on the latest poll offered. The poll question can be found to the left of this column. When I reach 400 respondents the poll would qualify as a survey. Often that is the statistical sample number used by political survey firms.

My deepest gratitude and thanks goes out to each and every one of you who visited my blog in the past year. Without your interest in Glendale and its issues there would be no incentive to write about them. Your continued interest demonstrates that people are hungry for a different point of view other than which is offered by the usual media sources.

Thank you all so much and please come back and visit often!!

© Joyce Clark, 2014

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Don’t threaten me or my family

Posted by Joyce Clark on April 4, 2013
Posted in BlogsCity of Glendale  | Tagged With: , , , | 5 Comments

news Fourteen years ago, in 1999, I wrote opinion pieces on Glendale issues for the Arizona Republic for the princely sum of $50 an article. I had a great time doing it. I was no longer on Council and was taking time off to care for my Mother who had Alzheimer’s. In October, 1999, I wrote a piece about the upcoming City bond election and the $24M slated to build a public safety training facility. I questioned the need with facts at my disposal. After the article appeared I received veiled threats from just one group…firefighters. They were obviously not happy that I suggested that this facility was not needed back then. Seven years later, they won the war and $6M in funding dollars for the soon-to-be constructed West Branch Library were diverted to help defray the cost of construction of the public safety facility (estimated to come in at over $40M).

Several days ago I posted “Gimme more” on this blog site. Today I received the following email response:

Author : FirefighterXXX (IP: 68.2.248.248 , ip68-2-248-248.ph.ph.cox.net)
E-mail : Ilvjerry@hotmail.com
URL    :
Whois  : http://whois.arin.net/rest/ip/68.2.248.248
Comment:
Great Idea Joyce about cutting fire staffing. I sent you link to Mayor XXX in XXX were my family lives. I think this will be a great idea for XXX as well. Maybe I will send you link to the Fire Chief too.

I have a son who is a firefighter in a Valley city. The email sender used my son’s name and the city  in which he is employed. For obvious reasons I have x-ed out that information. The reference is to the fact that in this time of financial upheaval for the city I do not support adding more personnel to any department when the city should, in fact, be cutting its expenses to meet its revenues. In my article I did not suggest that any public safety personnel should be cut. I did ask that we hold the line with what we have right now until revenues improve and the city can legitimately afford to hire more public safety personnel. The sender is suggesting in retaliation, that my son, working in another Valley community should be fired.

threaten 1I am fightin’ mad and am calling this lily livered coward out on his/her veiled threat. I am older and wiser than I was in 1999 when similar threats were made to me and my family. There is nothing like sunlight to disinfect garbage. I will bet that the sender is a union firefighter or a family member of one living in the Avondale area but perhaps working in Glendale. The email address is bogus because he/she doesn’t have the guts to use his/her real name or email address. Is that because he/she could be in legal trouble if he/she did so? Finding the exact address would require litigation and a demand for the logs from Cox.  It would be difficult but not impossible.

threaten 2There are thugs and cowards in every demographic and segment of our society. We all know that and some of us have experienced their intimidation and threats. Bloggers, journalists, elected officials and high profile people have. I am tired of the fire union using their thugs and cowards to do their dirty work. If you want to come after me because you don’t like my opinions by all means, feel free to do so. Anyone is invited to do so in a respectful dialogue between us. I family 2can certainly take care of myself. But the SOB who goes after any of my family members had better watch out. Is that a threat? You bet it is…but not the same kind as you made.

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cit mtg 2On the evening of April 1, 2013, the City made a public presentation of the state of its budget to the public. If you include myself and the councilmember representing our area there were a total of 5 people in attendance. That’s right. Three citizens and us. How embarrassing for the councilmember. Oh, but that’s OK. His only constituency these days is the fire fighters union.

staff multiplied jpgIn terms of city staff, it would be safe to say the citizens were outnumbered at least 3 to 1. There was at least 20-25 staff in attendance. Every director of every department was on hand to answer the flood of citizen questions (not), in addition to 2 of Glendale’s cable channel 11 TV crew filming the non-event. It almost begs the question as to why doesn’t the city ask the general public to RSVP? If a minimum number of citizens respond, the meeting is held. If only 2 or 3 respond, the meeting could be cancelled. After all if the public meeting had been cancelled, it would have only required calls to 3 people.

These staff members are salaried and not paid time and a half for extra duties such as attending this meeting.  These salaried personnel, if they so choose, can compensate themselves for the time by coming in to work a little later or taking a longer lunch break. It is an option available to them should they choose to use it. Many of them do not and put in more than a standard 40 hour work week.

Ms. Schurhammer, Executive Director of Finances, made a 15 minute presentation on the city’s budget. She concentrated on the city’s total Operating Budget by Fund and Department and the General Fund Budget by Department.  She pointed out that 34% of the city’s entire budget and 63% of the city’s General Fund budget goes to Public Safety. There was virtually a silent scream from all non-public safety staff asking how much more does Public Safety need? We’ll get to that in a minute.

Back in December, 2012, both the Fire and Police departments had their respective budgets balanced and were prepared for a vote of approval from the sitting council at that meeting. However, Vice Mayor Frate made a motion shark 2that their budgets be tabled and brought up again when a permanent City Manager was hired. The vote was 6-1 with me being the lone, dissenting vote. That action left their budget departments” doors open just a crack. Now, sensing an opportunity, they are smashing open those doors with a fire truck and tactical vehicle. They sense blood in the water and this new council (led on this issue by Councilmember Chavira, a Phoenix firefighter) is willing to give them everything and anything they want. Chavira will take care of his brothers in Glendale and we can only guess that Phoenix Councilmember Danny Valenzuela (a Glendale firefighter) will take care of his brothers in Phoenix.  Sweet, isn’t it? It has a nice, quid pro quo ring to it, doesn’t it? Note that the city does not have a permanent City Manager. Yet he will have to deal with the largesse that this council dispenses.

cit mtg 1After Ms. Schurhammer’s presentation, Ms. Julie Watters of the city’s Media and Communications Department, led the meeting by asking if there were any public comments. Mind you, a citizen could not ASK a direct question, only comment. If anyone had a question, they were directed to talk to that specific department director after the meeting. This is a tried and true practice that Glendale has practiced for years and which I have hated for just as long. For you see, if the question is a difficult or uncomfortable one, the answer is made only to the citizen seeking the answer after the meeting. After all, the city wouldn’t want all those citizens hearing that awkward answer to that difficult question. Would it? It’s a divide and conquer strategy that I believe is unfair to the citizens of our community.

cooler 3What were the water cooler musings? Several sources echoed one another. Much of it, dear reader, is old news for I have blogged about it previously. Nevertheless, here goes:

  • The Coyotes will be sold this month by the NHL.
  • The idea of 4 separate arena management contracts (you remember…hockey, entertainment, education and cleaning) still has legs and is not dead.
  • The general consensus is the Coyotes will be leaving Glendale as the city and the new team owner will not be able to come to mutually satisfactory terms on the arena lease management contract.
  • Or the other theory is that the team will stay in Glendale briefly (2-5 years) and then relocate.
  • This new council has no will to make the necessary and needed cuts over the next 4 years and likely will not sunset the temporary sales tax increase in 2017.

super bowlAll departments will struggle to come up with adequate funding to support the hosting of the 2015 Super Bowl in Glendale. Further diminishment of citizen services may be the only way to fund the costs.

 

 

 

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External Audit coming…

auditAt the Tuesday, March 26, 2013 City Council meeting an agenda item will be a vote of approval to hire Haralson, Miller, Pitt, Feldman & McAnally (HMPM), P.I.C., a law firm, to perform the special external audit this council has been craving. It doesn’t come cheap. The cost of this contract is $200,000. HMPM will subcontract out some of the work to Butler, FFG, and ESI. It is not clear from the staff report what would be the scope or responsibility of any of these firms. It is also not clear what their specialties are.

The costs per hour range from a high of $400.00 per hour for a principal to $100.00 per hour for a paralegal/law clerk.  Simple math shows that the number of hours billable for this contract range from 500 hours (about 12 ½ weeks) to 2,000 hours (about 50 weeks). This exercise could be completed in 3 months to a year. I think we can expect it to be completed this summer.

This is not a budgeted item and is not included in the current Fiscal Year 2012-13 adopted budget. That means that the money will have to be allocated from somewhere in the budget. Look for the payment of this contract to come from the $17M set aside for an arena lease management agreement. By the time this council’s agenda is met we won’t see much of the $17M left to pay anyone to manage the arena.

Bowers

Dick Bowers
Courtesy of
Linked In

A new Acting City Manager…

Expect at this same council meeting the hiring of Mr. Richard Bowers, former Scottsdale City Manager, as Glendale’s Interim City Manager until the search and hiring of a permanent city manager is completed.

A new Acting City Attorney…

Expect the council to approve Mr. Nick Depiazza, current Chief Deputy City Attorney, as the Interim City Attorney, until a permanent City Attorney is found and hired.

Budget meetings slated for this coming week…

On Wednesday, March 27, 2013 and Thursday, March 28, 2013, council will participate in two budget workshopsbudget 3 starting at 9am each day. This year’s budget workshop book is a hefty 284 pages of reading guaranteed to entertain and delight. Just crank up your printer, go to the Glendale website, find the agendas under the City Clerk’s page and you can print your very own copy just as I did. If you know where to look you will be able to spot the shifts in policy based upon where this council allocates available resources.

coins 1Still looming is how this council will address the loss of $22M in revenue currently being earned by the sales tax increase slated to sunset in 2017. The general feeling among council is that the city will have recovered by then and will easily absorb the $22M loss in sales tax revenue. There appears to be no will to be fiscally prudent and continue with cuts in anticipation of that loss of revenue. If they do not have the will to make gradual cuts each year for the next four years, they will be forced by circumstance to make draconian cuts in 2017. It’s very simple; karma catches up to you every time.

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