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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

I don’t generally write about political affairs in other communities but the Phoenix mayoral race has special relevance to Glendale. One of the mayoral candidates is current Phoenix Councilmember Danny Valenzuela. Councilmember Valenzuela also happens to be a Glendale fire fighter.

Councilmember Valenzuela invited me to have coffee with him on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at a downtown Glendale site, A Shot of Java. Out of an abundance of curiosity I accepted his invitation to meet.

First, a little background is in order about the Phoenix mayoral race. The current mayor is Greg Stanton. He has announced his intention to run for Congress in District 9 to replace Krysten Sinema, who is running for U.S. Senate. Stanton has until May 30, 2018, to submit his nominating petition signatures. At that time he must resign as Phoenix’s mayor. That action will trigger two of the current Phoenix councilmembers, who have already declared their run for mayor, Kate Gallego and Danny Valenzuela, to submit their nominating petitions and resign from office as well. As a side note, Moses Sanchez (R) and Nicolas Sarwark (L) have also announced their candidacies for Phoenix mayor. Lastly, Michael Nowakowski, another Phoenix councilmember, is still mulling whether he, too, will run for mayor. Potentially, there could be at least 5 candidates for the Phoenix mayoral position. Since it appears that Stanton will stay as Phoenix mayor as long as he can (May 30th) it means that the election will take place in August or November of 2018. An August election date favors Republicans and a November date favors the Democrats (even though Phoenix races are supposed to be nonpartisan). My bet is we will see a November date set for the election of the next Phoenix mayor.

Let’s take a closer look at Valenzuela’s political and fire fighter lives. Valenzuela was first elected to the Phoenix city council and took office in 2012. Coincidentally, that is when Danny’s pal, Sammy Chavira, ran for the Glendale Yucca council district seat and defeated me. Sammy and Danny have been friends for quite some time. More about this relationship later. Something not heard of before on the Arizona political scene occurred. A Glendale fire fighter ran for Phoenix city council and won and at the same time a Phoenix fire fighter ran for Glendale city council and won. The fire fighters’ union had to have been in “hog heaven.” Valenzuela ran for his second term in 2016 and won. Sammy ran for his second term in 2016 and lost…to me.

During the bulk of my time as a Glendale councilmember from 2000 to 2012, I never interacted with Glendale fire fighter Danny Valenzuela. During that time I do know he served as Glendale Fire Department’s Public Information Officer but I never had occasion to contact him about any matter. We may have occasionally attended the same functions but I simply didn’t know him.

Back to our meeting on February 6th. I did not initiate the meeting. Councilmember Valenzuela’s staff contacted my staff to set it up. Since it was his meeting it was appropriate for him to set the topic of conversation. Obviously, it centered on his announced candidacy for Phoenix mayor. Since I did not know him, he offered a short biography of his professional life. After that opening, I felt it was appropriate to ask him a question that many have wondered about…and that was, if he were elected as mayor would he resign as a Glendale fire fighter? Surprisingly his answer was “No.” He stated that he works a 40 hour week as a Glendale fire fighter (even though the work week for Glendale fire fighters is 52 hours a week). He said he usually does one shift over the weekend at a Glendale fire station and the balance of his time is spent at the Glendale Public Safety Training Facility (GRPSTC) working on ‘special projects’. Knowing the time commitment of a Glendale councilmember and knowing that Phoenix is ten times larger and hence the responsibilities of the job greater, my reaction was that the time commitment as Phoenix’s mayor simply would not allow him to continue as a Glendale fire fighter.  He believes that he can do both.

We moved on to the topic of Sammy Chavira, Valenzuela’s long time friend, although Valenzuela contends that their relationship is no longer close and has been severed. For those of you who don’t know the history, Sammy Chavira is a former, disgraced Glendale councilmember, who served only one term. During his term, Sammy was found to have habitually used his councilmember budget (taxpayer funds) inappropriately. During the 2016 election cycle it was discovered, among other things,  that Sammy had used his budget to fly to D.C. to see the Pope and used his city pro card to pay for dinner and drinks for a large contingent of Phoenix officials, including Valenzuela. Valenzuela insists that he had no idea that Sammy was using city funds to pay for that dinner. After the incident became public, he, along with other Phoenix officials, has reimbursed the City of Glendale for their portions of that infamous dinner.

Sammy and Danny, at one time, were both members of the International Association of Hispanic Fire Fighters Union. Although details are murky apparently they engineered a fund raising event for the organization that resulted in unaccounted revenues that disappeared.  The organization was informed that there were no profits generated from the event and ended up having to pay off creditors. Subsequently, both men resigned from that organization. What troubles me is the old saying, “you are judged by the company you keep.” While Sammy and Danny have been long time friends, they are no longer…due to political expediency?

Another area of conversation between Valenzuela and I centered on a future Ball Park Boulevard extension. This road is adjacent to Camelback Ranch and its extension would open up the entire area around it for economic development. I was not on council between 2012 and 2016 but I know that Glendale staff and various Glendale councilmembers discussed this issue with Valenzuela during his first term on Phoenix city council, seeking his support for Glendale’s goals with regard to Ballpark Boulevard. While Valenzuela expressed his support to various Glendale entities for Glendale’s vision, he never acted upon his declared support.

By now, we had consumed over an hour of discussion and both Valenzuela and I had other commitments to attend. I thanked him for arranging our meeting and for his time and I wished him well. Over the past 3 weeks I have had time to digest that meeting and Valenzuela’s responses to my queries. I have talked to countless others, political insiders and ordinary citizens. I find that I cannot support his candidacy for 3 reasons:

  • The major reason is his intent to retain his position as a Glendale fire fighter should be become Phoenix’s mayor. It is unrealistic to assume that he could do both jobs well. One would suffer and I suspect it would be his fire fighter job.
  • Even though Valenzuela now disavows his long time relationship with Chavira, it signifies poor judgment for having maintained a friendship with him for so long despite Chavira’s unsavory financial activities.
  • Valenzuela’s inability to or unwillingness to move the issue of Ballpark Boulevard forward on Phoenix’s agenda seems to indicate that he may say one thing yet do (or not do) another.

I wish Valenzuela luck in his run for mayor of Phoenix but I believe there are other candidates out there worthy of your consideration. I urge you to check them out and to consider voting for one of them.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On Monday, August 7, 2017 the City of Glendale’s city council meeting agenda for Tuesday, August 8, 2017 was amended and reposted within the appropriate time constraints. The item added to the agenda is the city council’s consideration and approval or denial of the city’s sale of 13.1 acres located on the north side of Bethany Home Road and on the east side of 99th Avenue to Topgolf. The land is directly north of American Furniture Warehouse. The purchase price is $5,713,730 that will go back into the city’s Water and Sewer Enterprise fund. The land was originally purchased by the city’s Enterprise fund for a water treatment plant but became unnecessary when the city built the Oasis Water Treatment Plant on Northern Avenue and approximately 72nd Avenue. Currently Topgolf has two locations in the Valley — in Scottsdale and in Gilbert.

The major investors in Topgolf are WestRiver Group, Callaway, Dundon and Providence Equity. Worldwide they have 33 venues with over 10 million visitors a year.

What is Topgolf, you say? It’s the hottest form of golf as an entertainment venue for all. Every Topgolf facility has dozens of high-tech, hitting bays. One to six people rent a bay by the hour and there are free clubs for use in each bay. The average bay rental is two hours. They also offer a full service restaurant and bars with unique menu items that can be found nowhere else in the Valley.  There are private event spaces and meeting rooms along with a rooftop terrace with a fire pit.  Customers can find original content shows, simulator lounges, competitive tours and pop-up social activities. There are HDTVs all over the place as well as everyone’s ‘must-have,’ free Wifi.

You don’t have to be a traditional golfer to enjoy their activites. Nearly 40% of their patrons are non-golfers. Two thirds of patrons are male and one third is female. The largest age group using the facility is people between the ages of 18 and 34 (53%).

If you would like to learn more about Topgolf please visit this link: https://topgolf.com/us/ . I couldn’t be more pleased. If the sale of land to Topgolf is approved by city council the city will have made its first move to extend its entertainment district beyond the Loop 101 and signals development of the west side of the Loop 101 for further entertainment venues. It’s a logical progression that moves entertainment to eventually join with the city’s MLB spring training facility, Camelback Ranch. It also can become a catalyst for further commercial development between Westgate and Camelback Ranch. The west side of the Loop 101 has suddenly become a hot location for more development. Look for more to come in this area.

This is yet another concrete example of Glendale, and especially the Yucca district, as a premier location for development. Glendale is on the move…and more is to come. As the Yucca district city councilmember with what I hope will be a vote of approval, I welcome Topgolf and wish it much success as the only venue of its kind in the West Valley.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

Would you like to attend a FREE spring training game at Camelback Ranch this month?
As your Yucca district councilmember I have 14 free tickets for each of the following games:

Sunday, March 12, 2017 at 12:05 PM

Sunday, March 19, 2017 at 1:05 PM

Monday, March 20, 2017 at 1:05 PM

Thursday, March 23, 2017 at 1:05 PM

Sunday, March 26, 2017 at 1:05 PM
 
  • The tickets will be distributed to a non-profit organization, i.e., church group, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Kiwanis, Rotary, Glendale Ambassadors, Habitat for Humanity, etc.
  • Some members of the group must be Yucca district residents.
  • Groups of adults are welcome.
  • If the group is comprised of minor children, there must be 1 adult for each 3 children.
  • In order to be eligible please share a recent community-oriented activity in which your group participated or organized.
  • First come, first served.
Please contact Councilmember Clark via email at either of these addresses: clarkjv@aol.com or jclark@glendaleaz.com
What a great way to spend a spring afternoon!
This gift is just a small token of my appreciation for all that you do in support of our community.
Councilmember Joyce Clark
Yucca district, City of Glendale

An alert for residents living along 83rd Avenue and 91st Avenue from Camelback Road to Bethany Home Road regarding the Planned Area Development application called Stonehaven. The applicant has submitted a revised Stonehaven development plan and has scheduled a formal Neighborhood meeting:

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 6:00 PM

Sunset Ridge Elementary School Cafeteria

8490 West Missouri Avenue, Glendale, Arizona 85305

The Glendale City Planner handling this case is the Glendale Planning Director, Jon Froke. He can be reached at 623-930-2585 or by email at jfroke@glendaleaz.com. Mr. Froke can answer your questions regarding the city review and hearing processes as well as the staff position once their report is complete. Below is a depiction of the Planned Area Development Land Use Master Plan. It is disappointing as the applicant is asking for more density while refusing to plan for large lots south of the Grand Canal and adjacent to Missouri Ranch (comprised of 10,000 SF lots). The largest lot size being proposed by the applicant is 7,000 SF. The applicant appears reluctant to listen to resident’s concerns about small lot sizes devaluing the property values of those who live near the proposed development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I urge you to attend this meeting especially if you live in Missouri Ranch; 8300 to 8600 W. Cavalier Drive; Pendergast Estates; Camelback Park, and all areas on the east side of 83rd Avenue including Orange Drive and Montebello Avenue.

Casino Issue not settled as U.S. District Judge David Campbell denied the Tohono O’odham’s (TO) request that he rule in the tribe’s favor without going to trial. Judge Campbell said he needed more information about allegations of fraud on the part of the Tohono O’odham. The trial will be scheduled sometime between April and August of 2017 making it a full year since June of 2016 when the Tohono O’odham filed suit against the state for its refusal to grant the tribe a Class III gaming license.

In the meantime Governor Ducey attempted to settle the case out of court by proposing to grant the TO a Class III gaming license in return for its promise to build no new casinos in the Phoenix Metro area. That overture was rebuffed by the TO and seems to signal that the TO may have plans for another casino in the Phoenix area. Could they have once again purchased land secretly betting that they can get their Class III gaming license without promising to build elsewhere in the Valley? I would think any Valley city with county islands should be very, very nervous. Here is the link to a December 19, 2016 story in the Arizona Republic: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/12/19/dispute-over-desert-diamond-west-valley-casino-heading-to-trial/95634944/ .

Tax increment financing for the Coyotes new arena is by no means guaranteed passage in the Arizona Legislature. Rather than granting tax increment financing and incentives for the Coyotes the legislature would be well served to assist the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA) in crafting new revenue streams for the sagging revenues it currently receives. The Authority has only paid out $49.2 million dollars in reimbursements toward a total of $220.7 million dollars owed to various Valley cities for their ballparks facility construction/renovation.  AZSTA has commitments to reimburse Surprise, Tempe and Scottsdale by 2007 and now estimates those repayments will not be completed until 2021. Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Glendale and Goodyear are not expected to receive their reimbursements until 2031 and beyond. Better the legislature develop a fix that enables AZSTA to meet its commitments for those facilities already constructed by a vast array of Valley cities struggling to find the money to pay off their debts for construction. Here is a link to the state’s latest audit of AZSTA: http://az-sta.com/downloads/files/financial/2015-special-audit-by-the-office-of-the-auditor-general-full-report.pdf . Below is a chart (page 23) from that AZSTA audit:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anthony LeBlanc, CEO of the Coyotes, acknowledged that the legislature is “essential” for their plan. You can be sure they are already lobbying members of the state legislature. However, in past years Valley cities have also lobbied for Tax Increment Financing (TIF) only to be denied repeatedly. One of the plans floated last year by the Coyotes involved capturing portions of sales and/or tourism tax revenue in a tax district created in the area of their proposed arena. The Coyotes will have a difficult time pushing to the head of a line that relies on tourism sales tax revenues. The legislature would be well advised to create a financial fix for those facilities already in existence rather than diverting scarce resources to yet another new sports facility. The subsidization of sports teams and their venues is not a popular public topic when people are still hurting financially and have not derived economic benefits from the national recovery. Here is a link to a Mike Sunnicks article in the Phoenix Business Journal about the Coyotes plan to have the taxpayers and tourists subsidize their proposed arena: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2016/12/02/arizona-coyotes-arena-real-estate-group-eases.html

 © Joyce Clark, 2016        

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

It has been 18 years and 90 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

In Paul Giblin’s March 4, 2016 Arizona Republic story about Councilmember Chavira he wrote: Concerning the California trips, Chavira noted in expense records that the purpose for a trip to Montebello, Calif., in November 2015 was ‘Economic Development-grid projects & special events in CA.’

He wrote that the reason for a trip to West Covina, Calif., in October 2015 was ‘Light Rail and bring LA restaurant to CB Ranch in CA,’ a reference to Glendale’s spring-training park Camelback Ranch.

“In his email to The Republic, Chavira stated that the trips combined multiple opportunities.

“‘I met with the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), which is an excellent model for innovation and entrepreneurship that I hope to implement in Glendale. Additionally, these two trips involved meetings with a number of political and sports-world leaders concerning the possibility of partnerships back home in Glendale,’ he stated.

“Chavira did not include names of business, political and sports leaders with whom he met. Officials with the clean-tech concern did not return messages about the matter.

“The October 2015 trip followed an introduction Chavira facilitated between Glendale resident Luis De La Cruz and officials at Glendale’s spring-training stadium.

“De La Cruz is the majority owner of Manuel’s Original El Tepeyac Café, a Los Angeles restaurant known for its five-pound burrito. During the meeting, De La Cruz proposed the idea of El Tepeyac selling items at Camelback Ranch stadium, according to De La Cruz and stadium President Jeff Overton.

“The group met at Camelback Ranch on Sept. 1, 2015, but no deals were struck. In October, Chavira sampled the food at El Tepeyac in Los Angeles and De La Cruz introduced him to officials at the clean-tech incubator, De La Cruz said in an interview.

“The Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox play spring-training games at Camelback Ranch.

Brian Friedman, the city’s economic-development director, said he did not accompany Chavira on the trips and that the councilman didn’t coordinate with him about them. Friedman said he is unfamiliar with the term ‘grid projects.’ “ Here is the link to Giblin’s entire article: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/03/04/glendale-councilman-sammy-chavira-charges-24k-trips-3-years-taxpayers/78857734/ .

There’s more to the Luis De La Cruz and Chavira connection. In Chavira’s 2012 run for his council seat Luis De La Cruz co-hosted a $100 a person fundraiser at Bitzee Mama’s for Sammy. They appear to have been friends since at least 2012 when the fundraiser occurred. De La Cruz, in addition to being a majority owner of El Tepeyac Café is also a director of Andale Construction located in Buckeye and Andale Towers located in Phoenix. Chavira seems to aspire running with those who have money and lots of it.

Chavira offered Giblin no back up information for his California trip other than a rather general statement of creating partnerships.  Could he have been there for another purpose? As Giblin reports Chavira did not offer specific information on who he met on this trip. Why travel to California to see a man who lives in Glendale? There has been unsubstantiated speculation that Sammy may have taken this trip primarily to attend a sporting event. Who knows?

Chavira’s explanation for all of his questionable trips to Washington, D.C. and to California was that he was there on city business as well. To the general public it appears that Sammy went on “fun” trips such as seeing Pope Francis on a big screen TV and attending his buddy’s, Ruben Gallego, installation as a Congressman and then to cover his butt made the assertion that he also attended meetings to benefit Glendale. No one is buying his explanation. No one, not the Mayor or other councilmembers have behaved in this fashion.

More troubling is Sammy’s habit and pattern of repaying “favors” to large benefactors supporting his run for office. Is it coincidence that Mark Becker of Becker Billboards made a substantial contribution to Sammy’s campaign and Sammy supported Becker’s request for billboards in north Glendale during, at the very least, one council meeting? Is it coincidence that an attorney for IceArizona made several hundred dollars in contributions to Sammy’s campaign and then Sammy voted for the deal even though he ran on a platform of no more bad (financial) deals for Glendale? Apparently he didn’t think Glendale’s payment of $15 million a year to IceArizona as a management fee was a bad deal. He did not support the canceling of IceArizona’s contract with the city and did not support the city’s issuance of a request for bids to manage the city’s arena.

In response to reading Paul Giblin’s report on Chavira’s trips A Letter to the Editor written by Ron Myers, Constable at Arrowhead Justice Precinct was published. Here is the full text:

“As an elected public official in Maricopa County who lives in Glendale, I am appalled and dismayed to read a story in The Republic that Glendale City Councilman Chavira has abused the trust of the taxpayers in Glendale by spending lavishly on questionable trips and meals charged to his expense account that we all pay for.

What possible city business could it be for him to fly to Washington, D.C., to observe the Pope’s speech on a TV monitor or to watch his friend get sworn in as a congressman? Does he really think he can justify spending over $400 on dinner for his superiors in the Phoenix Fire Department while out of town?

The City of Glendale takes one more black eye from out-of-control politicians. Shame on him and shame on the City of Glendale for allowing this fraud and abuse.”

— Ron Myers, constable

Arrowhead Justice Precinct

Glendale

Chavira’s ethics while serving as an elected official have called into question his fitness to serve. From all appearances he has done “favors” for those who supported him substantially in his run for council. Current news reports question Chavira’s abuse of Glendale’s citizens’ trust by using taxpayer dollars to fund his jaunts. Hopefully the current city council will institute policy to oversee their use of taxpayer dollars for travel. Disappointingly it appears that some councilmembers believe that Sammy “did nothing wrong.” If that is true, perhaps it will call into question their ethical decision making skills as well.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

It has been 17 years and 171 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

I have not only read Glendale’s motion but printed it out. Here is the link if you wish to read the motion: City of Glendale motion June 18 2015 . I have read and reread the motion several times. I suggest that you pay particular attention to the footnotes. In some aspects they are as revelatory as the emails provided in the brief.

Glendale could not have chosen a better attorney to represent its interests in its decision to cancel its contract with IceArizona and subsequent litigation. Here is a link to Cynthia Ricketts’ biography: http://sacksrickettscase.com/our-team/cynthia-a-ricketts/ . She is well respected by her peers and has extensive expertise in the area of litigation that the city requires.

If you noted in state statute A.R.S. § 38-511 it refers to any person “significantly involved in initiating, negotiating, securing, drafting or creating of documents.” Many have focused on the word “negotiating” especially with reference to Julie Frisoni. Please go to Frisoni’s PR website (http://www.frisonipr.com/whoweare/). This is a direct quote from her site, “Crisis communications, including NHL Coyotes negotiations and the near bankruptcy of a city.” It appears that Ms. Frisoni can’t have it both ways. There seems to be a conflict (no pun intended) between her claim on her website citing experience in “NHL Coyotes negotiations” and her recent public denials that she was merely a Communications Director.

Based upon my personal experience as a councilmember from 2000 through 2012 Ms. Frisoni was a close confidant of Ed Beasley, former City Manager, and Craig Tindall, former City Attorney. I did not have a great deal of interaction with Ms. Frisoni for I lacked trust in her. While she may or may not have had a hand in direct, face-to-face negotiations of the currently cancelled contract it appears quite evident that she played an essential role in securing (and insuring) council approval of the contract.

Prior to the contract’s approval by city council, on June 26, 2013, she sent talking points in support of the contract to Councilmember Chavira. In fact, Councilmember Chavira, one of only 2 council votes (the other being Sherwood) that did not support the recent vote to cancel the contract, is using many of those same talking points in his current Glendale Today show on Glendale’s Channel 11. Frisoni also sent an email on June 30, 2013, to the four councilmembers in support of the contract with IceArizona: Councilmembers Sherwood, Chavira, Knaack and Martinez. She seems to have deliberately omitted those that did not support it. In that email she passes on Jeff Teetsel’s (Westgate manager) arguments supporting passage of the contract.

I am quite unhappy with the alleged actions of former city attorney Craig Tindall. When city council originally hired him I was quite pleased. He appeared to be competent and articulate. In 2011 I began to hear rumors that he was supportive of an outside group interested in buying the Coyotes. Back then no one could or would tell me who the group was. Reading the emails between him and Anthony LeBlanc, one of the current Coyotes owners, I was unaware of their obviously close relationship dating back to at least 2010.  Little did anyone know they were meeting at their “usual starbucks.” It is now very difficult to accept the current parsing of words in an effort to minimize Tindall’s involvement in negotiating the IceArizona contract. It appears he was involved up to his lips.

It made me recall an incident at the end of 2012. The city was in the process of negotiation with a Coyotes team purchaser, Greg Jamison. I called Mr. Tindall with some technical questions about the deal. Cryptically, at the end of our telephonic conversation he remarked that if the Jamison deal didn’t make there was another group waiting in the wings. When I asked who, he refused to respond. In hindsight it now makes perfect sense but it raises more questions for me. I remember Interim City Manager Horatio Skeete telling me that Tindall appeared to be stalling and would hold Jamison documents on his desk for days. Skeete would make repeated requests for them which eventually would be fulfilled. Did Tindall deliberately sabotage the Jamison deal in an attempt to make available the opportunity for LeBlanc, et. al.? I honestly don’t know. You will have to decide for yourselves.

Tindall’s seeming self dealing is quite disappointing. As far back as April of 2010 in an email exchange between Daryl Jones of Ice Edge (precursor to IceArizona) Jones says they enjoyed working with Tindall and Tindall responds with “Now that’s an offer.” Was that Tindall’s subtle signal that he was angling for a job with them? Who knows? You decide. Or what about Tindall’s March, 2011, email exchange with LeBlanc urging LeBlanc to take a look at investing in a local medical device company? That action would seem to reinforce the notion that they had a close relationship. Or how about LeBlanc’s asking Tindall in October of 2011 if it was time to have a “confidential chat with Ed” (Beasley) as well as an email exchange between Tindall and LeBlanc about LeBlanc’s May, 2010 meeting with Steve E(llman)? What were these all about? We now know that LeBlanc wanted to buy the Coyotes even before the Jamison offer. We now know through more emails of Tindall’s effort to break a roadblock on July 26, 2013 (after the contract is approved) regarding the city’s paying IceArizona’s lenders directly? He emailed the newly hired City Manager (now former City Manager) Brenda Fischer apparently asserting that it was a simple administrative matter and appears to be urging her to take action.

The email exchange between former Mayor Scruggs and former City Manager Beasley are revealing as well. It appears as if the mayor was determined to get LeBlanc’s Lakehead Yale Sports Holding LLC “Plan B” before the city council in March of 2012. Once again Tindall’s name comes up when she says, “I have checked with Craig Tindall and Mr. LeBlanc’s letter is eligible for discussion under the items as posted.” Tindall seemed to be advocating for any LeBlanc deal.

The emails provided in the city’s motion to modify the Temporary Restraining Order are troubling. They are facts. They are the words of the principals involved. They are damning and not easily explained away.

I end with excepts from an email memo to the entire city council dated June 25, 2013 (a few weeks before council approval) from then Interim City Manager Dick Bowers:

  • “Contrary to what might appear in the papers I don’t see this as a ‘done deal’. Far from it. Discussions continued over the weekend and we have come only slightly closer to comfortable than before. Gary B(irnbaum) has helped to illustrate to the Renaissance group’s (eventually IceArizona) attorney the concerns we have. I suspect this has given them a degree of discomfort.”
  • “Glendale cannot afford a failure. The potential of failure exists as a dark shadow in the absence of the investors standing by their own numbers with confidence enough to simply take them for themselves and do the deal for 6.5.”
  • “While there are many ways to describe the Renaissance’s reluctance I keep coming back to that same discomfort of Glendale having all the risk in this deal. My concerns could mean nothing or they could represent an existential question that must be considered. Will this work for the benefit of the City of Glendale and what makes us firmly believe that it will?”

Mr. Bowers’ crystal ball was certainly working that day yet a few weeks later, 4 councilmembers, Yvonne Knaack, Manny Martinez, Gary Sherwood and Sammy Chavira voted in favor of the IceArizona lease management deal. I can understand Sherwood and Chavira’s approval votes. They appear to have been blindly joined at the hip with each other as well as IceArizona. The pro votes of Knaack and Martinez are not so easily understood. Each cited the well being of Westgate as a motivator for their decisions. It is troubling that they appear to have put the well being of Westgate over the well being of the City of Glendale. Why did they not heed the words of Interim City Manager Bowers?

No matter. What’s done is done. The discovery of Tindall’s and Frisoni’s actions provide the city with an opportunity to rectify one source of its annual bleeding…whether one uses $15M or $8.7M a year as the loss figure for the city. Many point to the annual debt payment for the Camelback Ranch Spring Training Facility (CRSTF). They say why focus on the arena when CRSTF is just as much of a financial drain. It is. I suspect in due time that financial albatross will be addressed. Development that should have occurred surrounding this facility never materialized as a result of the national recession. Without any promise of current economic development it is an issue the city must address in light of the fact that this council continues to fail to rein in city expenditures.

The pity of it all is the devastation caused to the coaches and players of the Coyotes team. They have been through so much since Moyes declared bankruptcy in 2009. None of it was of their making. They have become undeserved collateral damage. I hope and pray that their futures will once again become whole and they can take pride in playing under the Coyotes banner.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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It has been 17 years and 147 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

We all know about the billions the NFL (as a non-profit organization) made from the Super Bowl. It is estimated that the city lost somewhere between $1 and $1.6 million dollars. It turns out it was lucrative for some city employees working overtime for these major events. A total of 305 city employees were credentialed for the Super Bowl. They did not have assigned seats but that would not have prevented them from being in attendance. Many of them worked. The guys and girls on the line – 36 firefighters and 92 police officers – worked hard that day. Some credentialed employees in attendance if truth be told didn’t work at all but certainly were in attendance.

Fire Department numbers and figures provided under a Public Record Request reflect combined Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl figures as the department did not track each of these events separately. However the Fire Department had 105 of its employees credentialed for the Super Bowl (Please note: The Public Records Request provided names of all credentialed employees. I chose not to use them):

  • Fire Chief -1
  • Deputy Chief -1
  • Deputy Fire Chief-1
  • Executive Assistant Fire Chief-1
  • Deputy Chief of Logistics-1
  • Assistant Chief of Operations-1
  • Assist Chief of Logistics & Personnel-1
  • Deputy Chief of EMS-1
  • Fire Marshall-1
  • Assistant Fire Marshall-1
  • Deputy Fire Marshall-3
  • Division Chief of Communications-1
  • Division Manager-1
  • Resource Manager-1
  • Inspector-1
  • Battalion Chief-2
  • Acting Captain EMS-1
  • MD-1
  • Administrative Support-5
  • Administrative Supervisor-1
  • Firefighter-36
  • Fire Engineer-11
  • Fire Captain-29
  • Cadet-2
  • Recruit-1

Rates of pay differed for the top five earners encompassing all 3 major events (Fiesta Bowl, Pro Bowl and Super Bowl)  and each earned (again names were provided and I chose not to use them):

  • Fire Captain at 148.75 hours for $11,339.21 (Overtime at $76.23 per hour)
  • Fire Captain at 138.50 hours for $10,939.73(Overtime at $78.98 per hour)
  • Fire Captain at 98 hours for $7,235.34 (Overtime at $73.83 per hour)
  • Fire Engineer at 152 hours for $7,081.68 (Overtime at $46.13 per hour)
  • Division Manager at 19 hours for $4,180.00 (Overtime at $220 per hour)

Police Department numbers and figures provided under a Public Record Request do reflect the Super Bowl figures alone. The Police Department had 190 of its employees credentialed for the Super Bowl (Please note: the Public Records Request provided names of all employees. I chose not to use them):

  • Police Chief-1
  • Assistant Chief-2
  • Lieutenant-9
  • Commander-6
  • Detective-1
  • Sergeant-18
  • SWAT Sergeant-3
  • Sergeant EOD-1
  • EOD Officer-4
  • Sergeant K9-1
  • PIO Lieutenant-1
  • PIO Sergeant-1
  • PIO Officer-3
  • Detention Manager-1
  • Detention Officer-2
  • OIT Officer-1
  • Check In-5
  • Dispatcher-3
  • Communications-6
  • SWAT Officer-24
  • Officer-92
  • K9 Officer-5

The rate of pay for these Sergeants was $45.22 per hour (Again I chose not to use names):

  • Sergeant for 123 hours at $5,561.25
  • SWAT Sergeant for 70 hours at $3,165.27
  • SWAT Sergeant for 66 hours at $2,984.40
  • Sergeant for 60 hours at $2,713.09
  • SWAT Sergeant for 55 hours at $2,486.99

Of the total of 305 City of Glendale employees credentialed for the Super Bowl 10 were not Public Safety employees. Some of the more notable non Public Safety credentialed employees were:

  • Former City Manager Brenda Fischer
  • Former Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni
  • Current Assistant City Manager Jennifer Campbell
  • Intergovernmental Director Brent Stoddard
  • Former Communications Director Julie Watters
  • Development Services Director Sam McAllen
  • Program Administrator of Economic Development Jean Moreno

When asked under a Public Records Request to verify those employees who actually used their credentials this was the city response, “The city does not have any records to produce that would be responsive to this request. The credentials provided did require the user to scan in and out upon entering the hard perimeter of the stadium; however, the scanning equipment used did not belong to the city, nor was the city provided with any reports or other information about city employee scans.” How about that? The city doesn’t know but presumably the NFL does.

The city’s designated 22 member Operational Planning Team for the Super Bowl was comprised of the following employees:

  • Richard Bradshaw – Police
  • Cathy Colbath – Public Works
  • Justine Cornelius – Building Safety
  • Chris DeChant – Fire
  • Trevor Ebersole – Traffic
  • Walter Fix – Airport
  • Patty Frey – Fire
  • Jon Froke – Planning
  • Julie Frisoni – Communications/Asst. City Manager
  • Anthony Gavalyas – Fire
  • Joe Hengemuehler – Communications
  • Tamara Hicks – Licensing
  • Charles Jenkins – Fire
  • Matt Lively – Police
  • Sam McAllen – Code Enforcement
  • Jean Moreno – Economic Development
  • Tabitha Perry – Planning
  • Lorraine Pino- Convention Bureau
  • Claire Smith – Management Aide
  • Kristen Stephenson – Economic Development
  • Brent Stoddard – Intergovernmental Relations
  • Julie Watters – Communications

Quite a few of the members of this committee are department heads and even directors of departments. In city hierarchy their time was very valuable in terms of pay. Yet the city never tracked their hours of planning nor counted their hours of meeting as an identified cost incurred by the city for the Super Bowl. The same can be said of the 16 member Public Information Officers group comprised of the following:

  • Tracy Breeden – Police
  • Jackie Cole – Police
  • Ronald Hart – Fire
  • Joe Hengemuehler – Communications
  • Tamra Ingersoll – Communications
  • Sam McAllen – Code Enforcement
  • Jean Moreno – Economic Development
  • Jay O’Neil – Police
  • Robin Phillips – Communications
  • Laurie Sapp – Media Center
  • Daniel Senese – Fire
  • Rochelle Thomas – Police
  • Daniel Valenzuela – Fire
  • David Vidaure – Police
  • Julie Watters – Communications
  • Michael Young – Fire

Jean Moreno, Sam McAllen, Joe Hengemuehler and Julie Watters worked within both groups. These 2 groups were made up of 34 employees some of whom are high salaried employees. What remains troubling is that no accounting of their time and talent is tracked by the city yet they are expenses that the city incurred to host the Super Bowl.

Whatever figure the city claims as its cost to host the Super Bowl is bogus as long as all costs are not tracked. Employee time and wages are one component of the cost. What about equipment used? Police and fire vehicles, sanitation trucks, transportation equipment, etc. the city used? What about O&M costs for these vehicles? What about other equipment or personnel I wasn’t wise enough to ask for in attributing costs? Although my Public Record Requests were as specific and detailed as I could make them there were sure to be items I never thought of including. As we all know if you don’t specifically ask, you won’t get it. The city is not going to volunteer to give up information.

There you have it. Based on the information provided by the city I did my best to calculate expenses and revenues for hosting the Super Bowl. After all is said and done, Interim Assistant City Manager Tom Duensing’s figure of $2.2 million is incorrect. Add another million to two million dollars and you would be in the ball park. Perhaps the city will take note and if there should ever be another Super Bowl in Glendale city administrators will make every effort to track ALL costs not just the most visible – Public Safety. The city loses money owning the spring training ball park and the arena. Should it consciously continue to lose money hosting the Super Bowl and other major events? Perhaps it’s time to revisit any and all contracts associated with these major events as a means of city loss prevention. We love hosting them but the taxpayers of Glendale should not have to pay for them. It is incumbent upon the city to insure that all event promoters pay their fair share to alleviate the burden of loss the city continues to experience.

By the way, the city in its city council meeting of May 26, 2015 refunded $3 million dollars to AZSTA (Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority) in sales tax. That sales tax would have gone a long way to covering the loss sustained by the city. What’s wrong with this picture?

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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I had just finished writing this blog when I received 2 robo calls. The first one was from the Arizona Free Enterprise Club announcing it was seeking petition signatures to put the city council’s affirmative decision to eliminate the sunset provision of the temporary sales tax increase on the ballot. In the call they announced that they would be at the Foothills Recreation Center and the Glendale Main Library this weekend from 9 AM to 5 PM both days gathering signatures to get it on the ballot. I wish them success. I will make a special point of going to the Main Library this weekend to sign their petition.

The second robo call was several hours later and it was from the Glendale Fire Union urging people not to sign the petition and promising dire consequences if the sales tax increase is sunset in 2017. Everyone acknowledges that Glendale’s debt burden is unsustainable. Perhaps it would be more productive if the Fire Union got behind an effort to urge reduction of the city’s debt by selling some of its assets. It would make the entire sales tax sunset issue a moot point. 

The battle lines are drawn. Voters will be fed misinformation and exaggeration from both sides. They will have to wade through the claims and counter claims made until their eyes are crossed. Will voters decide to send a strong message of austerity to the city council or will they decide Glendale cannot continue to exist without a permanent sales tax increase? It looks like the voters of Glendale will be given the opportunity to ultimately decide the issue. Which side will be more successful in activating their voter base? It’s fair to say that the Sales Tax Sunset Elimination War is officially declared. Now…on to the rest of this blog.

The June 24, 2016 city council meeting had two major items not yet reviewed in my blog. One was the passage of Ordinance 2897 removing the sunset provision from the sales tax increase. The other was Ordinance 2899 eliminating city permitted events from the requirements of the city’s noise ordinance.

The elimination of noise provisions for city permitted events is a city-wide ordinance. If there is a city permitted event in Sahuaro Ranch Park, it applies. If there is a city permitted event at Arrowhead Mall, it applies. It does not affect just the residents adjacent to Westgate. It was approved unanimously by city council. Councilmember Chavira, representing west Glendale and the area of Westgate, had no qualms about throwing his residents under the Glendale bus. Perhaps it is time for the voters of his district to question his representation of them, their concerns and their interests.

Sam Allen, Code Compliance Director, also neatly side-stepped a question about the number of previous noise complaints in the Westgate area by saying he did not have that figure as noise complaints are handled by the police department. There were allusions by staff that neighborhoods would remain protected but no specifics as to how that would be accomplished.  Another question asked was how many events declined to locate in Glendale as a result of the city’s noise ordinance? That, too, was deftly ignored.

Ken Sturgis, a citizen commentator, said that he lived .8 of a mile away from Westgate and often heard Westgate event noise within his home. His neighbors heard it as well but felt that the city would do nothing about it. I live a mile away from Westgate and heard noise but not at the same level of intrusion that neighbors living closer to Westgate would have heard. So, in the name of flexibility and competiveness, all neighborhoods throughout Glendale have lost all protection from city permitted event noise. They will experience sound and fury…signifying nothing.

The other ordinance, passed on a 4 to 3 vote (with our usual 4, Knaack, Martinez, Sherwood and Chavira in the affirmative), was the elimination of the sunset provision of the sales tax increase. I was the councilmember who originally insisted it be a provision of the sales tax increase. I did not offer that stipulation on a whim. It was the only way I could support the increase. I trusted and relied upon my fellow councilmembers to keep their word. Little did I know that their acceptance of the sunset provision was done with fingers crossed behind their backs.

Barrel district council candidate Randy Miller spoke to the issue and said the two options, making the sales tax increase permanent or utilizing draconian cuts, were not the only options available. Mayor Weiers agreed and that was the basis of his “no” vote. Mr. Miller said there is always an Option 3 and crafting it should be the goal.

At the time of the passage of sales tax increase with the sunset provision senior staff offered a plan to gradually absorb the $25 million in the temporary sales tax increase by making incremental cuts of $5 million a year over a 5 year period. The first signal that council would not have the fortitude to make the necessary cuts over 5 years was when they could not even accept privatization of custodial maintenance of city buildings. That decision sent a message, loud and clear, to senior staff that making the necessary spending cuts over 5 years was a council non-starter.

I marvel at the city’s propensity and adroitness in propagandizing the issue.  Knowing that the Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) is currently circulating a petition to get the council’s vote for elimination of the sunset provision on the ballot, senior staff slipped in a new concept.  The sales tax increase will be reviewed during the budget process each year. Be careful what you wish for. It would be ironic indeed if, at the next budget discussions in the spring of 2015, council decided to raise the sales tax increase. After all, Councilmember Sherwood publicly stated that he believed it would be necessary.

The offer of sales tax increase review every year was strategically offered to mitigate the anger of Glendale voters should the AFEC be successful in getting the question on this fall’s ballot. The city will be holding out the hope that the increase has a chance of being reduced or going away in the future. Maybe after we’re all dead.

The city assertion flies in the face of the fact that the bond rating agencies are taking a close look and relying upon the elimination of the sunset provision to satisfy them. The bond rating agencies will again be very concerned about Glendale’s financial stability when they realize that now the sales tax increase stands an annual possibility of reduction or elimination. By adding this provision of annual review the stability that the bond rating agencies rely upon has been removed.

Another mitigation strategy that the city is already employing is on its website under Frequently Asked Questions about the elimination of the sunset provision. Here is the link:http://www.glendaleaz.com/documents/FAQEliminationofSunsetforTempTax062514.pdf .

The city’s message is that dire consequences will occur should the tax sunset in 2017. They used the same strategy years ago when a group of us nearly got the elimination of food sales tax on the ballot. The city prepared a slick pamphlet asking Glendale citizens to choose what cuts they would be willing to make. All choices were dire and it scared the voters. It worked that time and sadly, it may work this time.

If the Arizona Free Enterprise Club is successful in acquiring the requisite number of signatures to get the question on the fall ballot, don’t buy into scare tactics this time. It’s time for Glendale voters to send a direct message to council and senior management staff. That message is, live within your means. Don’t spend more than the city receives in revenue. If 22% of the budget is devoted to the debt burden, tell them it is their job to reduce the debt.

Which brings up the question, can Camelback Ranch, the Media Center, the Parking Garages, the Convention Center, the Civic Center or Jobing.com arena be sold? I’m not an attorney but I would say “yes.” Many years ago as a small business owner, my landlord sold the building in which I was a tenant. The new landlord and I could not come to mutually agreed terms. When my lease expired I did not renew. I left that location.

Glendale owns these buildings and has the right as landlord to sell them. Tenants in any of these sites would then have to negotiate new lease terms with the new landlord. Glendale may lose some money by selling at present market value but it would remove the debt and/or the O&M costs associated with the asset. Glendale must get its debt burden under control. Right now it is over 22%. It should be under 10%. If Glendale cannot afford these assets, selling them seems to be a prudent course of action.

There are those who will immediately say, we can’t do that. Instead, council direction should be given to the city attorney to make it happen. The city simply cannot continue down this unsustainable debt burden path forever.

There are those who will say, what’re you… nuts? The city can’t do that! It reminds me of something Councilmember Hugh said at this council meeting. He said, paraphrased, that the current council is fractured because its members do not share the same strategy for curing Glendale’s financial situation. Each side believes it has the better path and the right path to solve Glendale’s fiscal crisis.

I have no doubt that the councilmembers love this city. They demonstrate it daily by their service. Unfortunately, a majority believe the only solution is to tax the city out of its financial crisis. The minority believes that there are other choices, painful, yes… but other choices.

It has been my honor and a great privilege to have served as a Glendale councilmember for 16 years. I have lived in Glendale for nearly 50 years. I love this city. You love this city. It is our home. Placing a greater and greater tax burden on those who live in this home, is not prudent…and it sure isn’t the best way to grow Glendale.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

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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.

It appears that Glendale cannot catch a break financially. Camelback Ranch opened in 2009 as the new Spring Training home of the Dodgers and White Sox at a cost to Glendale of $158 million: The ballpark cost $121 million, plus $37 million for off-site infrastructure. Glendale knew that reimbursement from the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA) would be a long time in coming but at least it knew that in the future it would be partially reimbursed for its investment (if I remember correctly, it was 70% of the cost) .

AZSTA utilized a 2000 voter approved tax on car and hotel rentals to pay for the construction of the University of Phoenix Stadium and various Spring Training facilities in addition to reserving a portion for youth sports. It issued bonds for stadium construction that are paid from the rental taxes.

On Tuesday, June 17, 2014 Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Dean Fink ruled that the car rental tax was unconstitutional because the tax was being used for what he determined were impermissible uses. Here is the link:  http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/consumer/call-12-for-action/2014/06/18/judge-strikes-rental-car-tax-stadiums/10723905/ .

There is a hotel industry suit waiting in the wings claiming that it’s tax is also unconstitutional. No doubt there will be an appeal of all rulings related to this issue so it may be at least a year or more until there is final resolution.

If the car rental industry and the hotel industry finally prevail Arizona will be forced to rebate all of the tax it collected to those industries. It will be an amount way, way north of $150 million. This action raises a host of questions. Will AZSTA come up with another taxing mechanism to replace the unconstitutional one? Will it take it to the voters for approval? Will it renege on its obligations? Will cities with new, spring training facilities be able to sue AZSTA for breach of contract if it fails to reimburse them? The implications of such a ruling, should it be upheld, are breath taking.

For Glendale it is not catastrophic in the short term because it knew AZSTA’s reimbursement was some time off. But, if AZSTA does not fulfill its obligation to reimburse Glendale and it is solely responsible for paying off the construction debt of approximately $17 million a year, it becomes another financial obligation that bond rating agencies will take into consideration when rating Glendale’s ability to pay its massive debt. This result, if not reversed on appeal, provides no light at the end of Glendale’s long and dark financial tunnel.

 © 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.

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