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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

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Yesterday’s blog entitled “Please delete this email after you read it” regarding Councilmember Gary Sherwood’s email resulting in an allegation of violation of the state’s Open Meeting Law created quite a bit of controversy rippling through the Coyotes world, Glendale’s political world and even the journalistic world. I suppose the reaction from the Coyotes world is the most predictable.  As anyone would expect, the Coyotes fans are fiercely loyal and anything that raises the specter of the disappearance of their team from Glendale sends them into overdrive. Their first reaction is to kill the messenger. In this case that includes not only me but Mayor Weiers, the Glendale Star and the Arizona Republic.  They denigrated Mayor Weiers for outing actions that may prove to be illegal. They gnashed their teeth over my blog and the newspapers’ articles because they perceived the information as yet another hit on their beloved team.

What they fail to recognize is that while the 4 councilmembers’ actions preceded a vote on the Coyotes deal, those actions could have preceded any council vote on any issue.  The troubling issue for many people is not the outcome of the vote but rather the actions that preceded and led up to the vote. The allegation is not about the Coyotes. The allegation is about improper behavior by 4 councilmembers. An investigation by the AG’s Office will surely answer the question, did they collude behind closed doors prior to the vote? Did they conduct city business secretly to assure a positive vote? Why speak to the issue of a possible Open Meeting Law violation when instead fans can deride the messengers? Why is it alright to dismiss possible illegal behavior because it is associated with a vote on the Coyotes deal? It’s a case of situational ethics.

The reaction from the Glendale political world is also predictable. It was learned that when the email first came to light, Vice Mayor Knaack denied attending the meeting. However, that would never do and would not last long. It would have had Sherwood and Knaack as adversaries; something they can ill afford right now. Today, the explanation given is that Sherwood and Knaack were in the same car when they received a cell phone call from Woods. Two things are questionable about this scenario. Where was Sammy? After all, Sherwood in his email says, “Sammy is already on board as he was with us last night.” Even if you can swallow this car explanation, it doesn’t make the allegation go away. The Open Meeting Law says, “Splintering the quorum can be done by meeting in person, by telephone, electronically, or through other means to discuss a topic that is or may be presented to the public body for a decision.” Note that they are not denying the basis of the allegation. Are they trying to muddy the waters by responding to minutia such as where they were when the meeting of the 3 and Woods took place? It’s another case of situational ethics.

The reaction from the print world can only be described as fascinating. Yesterday afternoon, July 21, I received a phone call from Paul Giblin, an Arizona Republic reporter. He proceeded to express his offense that I dared to say that I had scooped reporter Peter Corbett and the Arizona Republic.  He opined that my writing was done on the back of Peter Corbett who had made the FOIA request. He said that my journalistic standards were not as high as that of the Arizona Republic’s, and ended by saying; enjoy writing your little blog.

Later that day, I learned that Darrell Jackson of the Glendale Star had made the same kind of FOIA request. Who made the first request?  Update: July 23, 2014. I learned today that Darrell Jackson made the original FOIA request over 2 weeks ago. Did Peter Corbett do his story on the back of Darrell Jackson? Isn’t it weirdly coincidental that 2 reporters made the same FOIA request? Even more interesting is who tipped them off to the Sherwood email and why? What was the source’s motive for doing so? Situational ethics once again.

As for journalistic standards…hah…that’s like the pot calling the kettle black. Arizona Republic readers have complained about the perceived bias in this paper’s stories for years; to the point that it has become legendary.   Paul Giblin’s outrage is much ado about nothing. More situational ethics.

© Joyce Clark,

2014 FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The 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 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 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.

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

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The 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 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 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.

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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