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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

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

On February 1, 2017 the Arizona Republic had a front page, above the fold story (meaning really important) on Phoenix’s lobbyists’ rule. Its lobbyist registration ordinance is not worth the paper it’s written on. Here is the link to the story: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2017/01/31/phoenix-council-letterhead-revealed-toothless-lobbying-rules/96549540/ . The Republic story reports, “Phoenix’s law states that lobbyists must register and disclose their clients if they are paid to contact the mayor or council members to influence official decisions. Lobbyists must also report campaign contributions and money they spend on meals, gifts or other expenses that benefit elected city leaders, according to the ordinance.” One of many problems with Phoenix’s law is there are no penalties associated with any failure to follow their law.

The article goes on to say, A high-profile Phoenix law firm did not properly register as a lobbyist with the city for two years, and recently filed falsely dated documents that made it appear the firm had followed the law, according to the Phoenix city attorney.

But the city of Phoenix can’t do anything to penalize the firm or others that do not comply with its lobbyist regulations. That’s because the law is toothless and there is no way to enforce it, city officials said they realized last week.” It’s up to the Phoenix City Council to reform its lobbyist law.

If you are relying on the state to keep an eagle eye on lobbyists and their expenditures, forget it. Justin Price, for the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting states, “Less than 14 percent of the roughly $333,000 spent to lobby Arizona lawmakers in the first half of 2015 identified who the money was spent on, continuing a trend of scant disclosure going back years.

“Since 2010, the portion of lobbying records that include beneficiaries has averaged about 12.5 percent. This is according to data maintained by the Secretary of State’s Office and includes lobbying records for the first half of each year, which typically includes Arizona’s annual legislative session.

Lobbyists are required to report their expenditures in quarterly expense reports submitted to the secretary of state. But loopholes and minimal regulatory oversight leave room for lobbyists to spend without reporting who benefited, ultimately leaving the public in the dark about who is influencing the people they have elected to craft Arizona’s laws, budget and taxes. For 2015, lobbying records include a beneficiary for $1 out of every $8 spent.” Here is the link to Mr. Price’s research: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/politics/2015/11/23/arizona-lobbying-records-little-disclosure/76068724/ .

Lobbying can be and is done by consulting firms and zoning attorneys advocating for a land project or the same entities may represent industries/interests seeking a specific law or project for which they are trying to attain passage for their client. Glendale, the state’s 6th largest city, has no lobbyist laws and it is way overdue.  It’s not just a matter of registering lobbyists who operate in Glendale, it’s also a matter of developing rules regarding the city’s hiring of lobbyists. In 2011, the city had a stable of lobbyists: Husk Partners, Inc.; Hyek and Fixx, Inc.; Van Scoyoc Associates, Inc.; and Policy AZ. They were hired while Ed Beasley was Glendale’s City Manager and paid a boatload of money to lobby on behalf of the city.

There is little to no transparency when it comes to lobbyists, what they do, how much they spend and which lawmakers receive their benefit. It’s not a problem just for Glendale and Phoenix but for the state as well. The state’s lobbyist laws are as meaningless as those of Phoenix.

It’s time for us, the citizens of the state, to know who is paying whom and who is supplying trips, gifts, meals and campaign contributions to all lawmakers…state, county and local.

© 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.

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

Glendale is the 6th largest city in the state. Here is the ranking of the ten largest cities in the state:

  • Phoenix
  • Tucson
  • Mesa
  • Chandler
  • Gilbert
  • Glendale
  • Scottsdale
  • Tempe
  • Peoria

Glendale has the lowest average median income of the 10 largest cities.

Glendale has the second highest poverty rate of those 10 cities.

Another media story shows that of the 25 wealthiest zip codes in Maricopa County Glendale has but one…85310…ranked 24th out of 25.

Glendale is a very diverse community:

  •     Caucasian                     50%
  •     Hispanic or Latino       37%
  •     Afro-American               6%
  •     Asian                                4%

Today we are going to examine why these facts drive development (or the lack of it) and also what needs to occur in order to improve or “upgrade” Glendale development to enhance our citizen’s quality of life and also make Glendale more competitive obtaining quality commercial/residential projects.

What can Glendale do to turn these numbers around? How does Glendale raise the average median income, lower its poverty rate and have more of its zip codes labeled as “the wealthiest”? It must embrace a new strategy toward future development and a new strategy to remediate some of its struggling neighborhoods.

So let us add some new facts and start to look for effective and reasonable solutions to Upgrade Glendale.

A square mile between Camelback Road to Bethany Home Road; 59th Avenue to 67th Avenue; in zip code 85301 is ringed by 10…yes, 10…low income multi-family apartment complexes? Were you aware that the density of package liquor stores and bars is the highest in zip code 85301? In an effort to upgrade south Glendale shouldn’t Council and the Planning Department be asking, when any developer or business seeks to locate in this area, does this project upgrade the area? Does it serve a family-oriented need? Does this project make the quality of life better for these neighborhoods or are we simply allowing more of the same because it’s easier not to fight the fight for quality commercial and residential development? If developers say they will walk away from a project because that is all that a certain area merits, perhaps the new Glendale paradigm is to let them. If we develop new standards of quality development and advise the development community that is what we expect and will allow, then that is what we will get.

The majority of Glendale’s residential base is comprised of starter homes and middle class homes. The home median value in Glendale is $183,300. Many new residential developments have a price point between $220,000 and $250,000. To some that may seem to be expensive but it is not in today’s market.

Where does one find big, beautiful, expensive homes on large lots? Why, zip code 85310. You can count on no more than two hands enclaves of large lot, expensive homes throughout Glendale. It is time to stop allowing the development community  build to the lowest common denominator of an area and demand that they build adhering to a philosophy of upgrading, not downgrading or adding more of the same in an area.

Glendale must stop allowing developers of infill projects greater and greater residential densities. I once learned that Glendale loses approximately $200 a year per home when providing basic services such as public safety, libraries, parks, streets, water, sewer and garbage collection. What that means is that Glendale spends more in services per home than that home earns in revenue for the city in terms of property taxes, sales taxes, etc. So, how is this imbalance made up? By commercial development with the property taxes and the sales taxes they pay to the city. I’m sure the figure has changed and I don’t know the current number however I plan on asking staff for a new current assessment.

Upscale businesses offering high paying jobs go a long way to offsetting the loss of revenue from the city’s cost of providing its basic services to homes. So how can we get the Intel’s of the world to locate in Glendale?

The quality of its workforce is the life’s blood of any major corporation. These corporations desire to locate where they can attract a highly educated, skilled employee base.

That’s where Glendale’s schools play a major role and unfortunately it is an area over which Glendale has no control. Many, not all, of Glendale’s schools have underperforming high school graduation rates with much of their student populations not moving on to college or technical training. Glendale’s primary and secondary educational system is failing to prepare students to become college or technically bound. They are failing to help the city to attract the quality work force needed to attract the Intel’s. The kinds of corporations we must seek to attract have employees who want to be assured that their children will have access to outstanding educational opportunities. These employees also seek quality, upscale housing with great quality of life amenities. They also require nearby access not just to fast food establishments but to upscale dining, shopping, leisure and entertainment opportunities. While a smattering of those kinds of quality of life issues are met in a few Glendale enclaves there is not enough of a mass to attract the kinds of employment providers the city seeks.

I contend a rising tide lifts all boats.

Isn’t it time to upgrade every Glendale resident’s quality of life? Isn’t it time to provide our residents with an abundance of good paying job opportunities? Shouldn’t it be in safe neighborhoods? Shouldn’t it be with Class A dining, shopping, leisure and entertainment opportunities throughout all of Glendale? We can do that by insisting and conveying to developers of commercial and residential properties that whether it is an infill parcel or raw land, our expectations for development are stringent. That Glendale now demands a new forward looking vision.

In a coming blog we will examine how Glendale government can move past prior history, Glendale school districts may help both their students now and after graduation and residents can actively engage in this new vision.

 

© 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.

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

In the February 11, 2017 edition of the Glendale Republic a Letter to the Editor from Larry Johns of Peoria proposed an interesting concept:                                                              “As an 11-year ticket holder, I certainly have experienced highs and lows.     

“The recent plan to build a new home for the Arizona Coyotes with ASU in Tempe is dead. However, CEO Anthony LeBlanc still wants to ‘secure the future of hockey in Arizona.’ He also said that the team is ‘ready to invest more than $170 million in a new arena.’ Glendale still owns nearly $150 million on the Gila River Arena.

“My suggestion: LeBlanc and the Coyotes should offer to buy the GRA for $150 million and put another $20 million into repairs and upgrades. Glendale would be free of the remaining GRA debt payments; it would still have sales tax revenue coming from the use of the arena and could focus on paying down their other sports stadium obligations or improving Glendale’s infrastructure.

“The Coyotes would be free from their acrimonious relationship with Glendale, would have control of the arena and, most importantly, would remain in Arizona. Just a thought.”

Yes, it is just a thought but an intriguing one. As long as the Coyotes remain in their self-imposed limbo weekly rumors will continue to abound. This week’s crop related to a media report on Tuesday that the team had sent representatives to check out locations in both Portland and Seattle. Geoff Baker, a reporter for the Seattle times, tweeted, “Attendees at developer/owner #KeyArena tour by city 2 weeks ago shows no #arizonacoyotes reps among non-city staff/media. Coyotes deny going.” He backed up his assertion by posting the attendees sign in sheets for the tours.

Anthony LeBlanc, Coyotes CEO, was quick to deny the current relocation rumor with this Coyotes Press Release, “Recent reports by the Glendale Star that the Coyotes ownership group has explored arena options outside the Arizona market are completely false. The Star referenced an anonymous arena source and an anonymous Coyotes source, and these are a fabrication.” He went on to say, “Maybe a little less seriously because of the publication, but because it has gone national — which is disappointing — we take this seriously, as does the league.” The magic words in his denial are as does the league.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has already demonstrated his commitment to keeping the team in Arizona by having the NHL manage the team for several years after Jerry Moyes declared bankruptcy of the team in 2009. The Phoenix Metropolitan media market is a highly lucrative one for the league. It’s a market the league does not want to abandon. Bettman’s other goal is to create a new franchise in the west.  I suspect after a conversation with Bettman, LeBlanc couldn’t get to the media fast enough to deny rumors of relocation.

Denying rumors of relocation by LeBlanc is needed to quiet the fan base as well. Since the purchase of the team by IceArizona, average attendance figures have dropped like the proverbial stone and the team has earned the distinction of being the second lowest in the league with an average of 12,841 for the 2016-17 season. Only the Carolina Hurricanes have a lower attendance figure of 12,204. It should also be noted that their marketing efforts this season have been minimal. How many TV ads do you remember seeing this season?

LeBlanc points to these attendance figures as the reason why the team must move

Coyotes play off game White Out

to the East Valley. I would remind everyone that when the team made the play-offs attendance figures were robust. History shows no one complained about coming to Glendale to watch a winning team performing in the play offs. It certainly has a lot to do with the product on the ice. When the product is good, people will come. It’s the same for any sports franchise. When the team is hot and fan expectations are high, people come out of the woodwork to attend and suddenly tickets become very pricey.

All of this circles back to Mr. Johns of Peoria and his thought. If the Coyotes really do have money to play with…why not buy the Gila River Arena and become masters of their own fate? They characterize Glendale as inhospitable. Why? Because the city council didn’t want to continue subsidizing the team’s operations while losing money every year? The council simply wanted to stop bleeding each and every year and work toward insuring Glendale’s financial stability. It wasn’t, as portrayed, because they disliked the Coyotes and wanted to get rid of them.  Keep in mind the city had its own problems in dealing with the ownership group which was often obstructionist, especially in sharing financial information.

If the ownership group really has $170 million dollars why wouldn’t it take the opportunity to buy the arena? Many suspect that the Coyotes really don’t have that kind of money without attracting a new crop of investors. Rumor has it that may be exactly what they are doing…seeking a new investor(s).

Can they strike a deal with Sarver? Doubtful. Can they strike a deal with the Salt River-Pima-Maricopa Indian Community? Doubtful. The painful lesson LeBlanc, et.al., are learning is that no one is willing to pay them to play…anywhere.

© 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 tohttp://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.

On January 17, 2017, Jessica Boehm of the Arizona Republic did a story entitled “What is the wealthiest city in the West Valley?”  She said, “The West Valley is home to some of the fastest-growing cities in the country, according to U. S. Census data…But despite the booming population, the region lacks significant high-wage employment opportunities, often putting West Valley cities behind East Valley counterparts – like Chandler and Gilbert – with wealth indicators like household income and employment.” Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/southwest-valley/2017/01/17/wealthiest-city-goodyear-west-valley-census-household-income/96449470/ .

The major factor hampering the West Valley is the lack of adequate transportation corridors with enough capacity to meet not only overburdened current needs but those of the future. Just try to use I-10 from 83rd Avenue to 35th Avenue during morning or evening drive times...absolute gridlock.

 State and regional leaders have always succumbed to the political pressure applied by East Valley cities while considering the West Valley cities as the ugly stepchild. West Valley cities are outperforming all of the East Valley cities in terms of growth and it is projected to continue well into the future. It is time for state leaders to allocate resources to develop the kind of transportation system that already exists in the East Valley cities. Instead of allocating money to add yet another lane to a healthy East Valley system, the West Valley doesn’t need a token but a real resource commitment to build a transportation grid equal to that of its sister East Valley cities.

 I remember attending a meeting where Elliot Pollack, a preeminent and well respected economic data analyst in the state, said Glendale will become the geographic center of the Valley. I have never forgotten that assertion.

And yes, based upon 2014 and 2015 U. S. Census data, Goodyear with a median household income of $70,003 is the wealthiest West Valley city…for now. It is a snapshot in time and the character of any snapshot depends upon factors that change and rearrange constantly.

I did some research based upon available U.S. Census data on the 10 largest cities in Arizona. For comparison purposes I did not gather data on #2 Tucson, because it obviously, is not in Maricopa County. I also did not gather data for #7 Scottsdale or #8 Tempe because I believe these cities are unique in character.

Please note that in terms of median income #1 Phoenix; #3 Mesa and #6 Glendale all share the same general range of median household income ($46,000 to $48,000). Six cities have poverty rates of 10% or higher: Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Glendale, Avondale and Buckeye. With the exception of Litchfield Park all of these cities share unemployment rates from 4.2% to 6.2%.

This is not to belittle Goodyear’s success having identified and worked to attract aerospace manufacturing and health care as its job core priorities. What will be determinate of Goodyear’s ultimate economic future is that it is currently 191.52 square miles with much of its land still waiting for development. Its current population density rate is very low, at an average of 412 persons per square mile. This is in stark contrast to Phoenix, Mesa and Glendale all having an average of 3,000 to 4,000 persons per square mile. Density of population has a way of leveling the playing field.

Glendale has its job cut out for it to make some of these numbers better than they were in 2014-15. It has been working hard and these numbers don’t reflect the growth in West Glendale of its medical/health facilities.

The numbers also do not reveal that, unlike some Valley cities, Glendale is not land-locked. Those Valley cities that are not land-locked have already, in some cases, annexed all of the land possible within their annexable borders. Glendale has another estimated 50 square miles that it can annex.

The current city council’s focus is on job creation of high-paying jobs and there is still plenty of opportunity to do exactly that. The statistics for Glendale create a road map that can be used to develop strategies to address them. While this snapshot in time was not pretty for Glendale, it has so much potential to create a brighter future. The next federal census in 2020 will, I bet, paint a picture of a much improved Glendale.

© 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.

On the evening of January 11, 2017, the applicants, John F. Long Trust (property owner) and Pulte Homes (proposed builder) held a neighborhood meeting at Sunset Ridge Elementary School at 6 PM. I want to thank all of the citizens who took the time out of their busy schedules to attend. The final count of  citizens who attended 72. You rock! Thank you!

Residents attend Stonehaven meeting

Be advised you will have to repeat that night’s attendance again when the applicants’ Minor General Plan Amendment request is heard before the citizen Planning and Zoning Commission and also before the city council.

The meeting room had boards ringing the room depicting the proposed development. Various Pulte and John F. Long Trust personnel were stationed at each of the presentation boards. Did I ever mention how much I hate this type of meeting presentation? It’s a travesty. It’s designed to talk to small groups making it less difficult to sell a project. It’s so much easier to pick people off and convince them of the wonderfulness of a project this way.  If a citizen is not savvy enough to ask the right questions, the person never is told the complete story about the project.

I was pretty darned angry. So I talked (maybe talked forcefully) to the Pulte people and advised them that citizens would be placing chairs in the center of the room where everyone would sit and wait for a presentation from them. That way everyone would hear the same information at the same time and could ask questions or make comments to the presenter(s). Here’s the result of our polite but forceful insistence (resistance??).

The presenters were Jim Miller, John F. Long Trust attorney and Susan Demmitt, Gammage & Burnham attorney representing Pulte Homes, and Greg Abrams, VP of Land Acquisitions for Pulte Homes. The neighborhood meeting was required because the applicants are asking for a Minor General Plan Amendment changing the land use on 65 of the 300+ acres from Medium Density (2.5 to 3.5 homes to an acre) to Medium-High Density (5 to 8 homes to an acre).  The result of this change, if approved by the citizen Planning & Zoning Commission and the City Council, would result in some lots as small as 3,000 square feet. What on God’s green earth will this single family, detached home look like? How about a cracker box?

One of the citizens commented that he was familiar with a similar project in another Valley city where 3,000 square foot lots and small homes had been allowed. The homes could not be resold and so the area became a mass of rental properties. We all know what happens to rental properties and generally, it’s not a pretty picture.

Another citizen commented that there was every possibility that the close proximity of these tiny lots and tiny homes to the University of Phoenix stadium (approximately a mile away) would make these properties extremely attractive to investors who would purposefully buy them as rentals to accommodate football fans, especially for events like the Super Bowl or Fiesta Bowl.

One of the presenters commented that this type of lot size and home would be purchased by millennials. Excuse me, but aren’t millennials living at home with their parents because they can’t afford to buy a home? And many of them simply don’t want to buy a home… period.

Think about it. I live in a 2, 964 square foot home. I suspect some readers of this blog have homes the same size as mine or larger. I have been trying to image a lot size the same size as my home. I can’t do it.  It literally boggles the mind. Glendale has never allowed 3,000 square foot lot sizes…anywhere, at any time. They should not allow them ever and certainly this residential development should not become a guinea pig for such a lot size and product.

Equally as discouraging, was Pulte’s reduction of lot sizes adjacent to Missouri Ranch (a subdivision of 10,000 square foot lots). Originally the lot sizes adjacent to Missouri Ranch and south of the Grand Canal were supposed to be 8,000 square feet. In this new proposed Minor General Plan Amendment these lots sizes shrink to 7,000 square feet.

The presenters, when asked, shared that the number of homes under the presently approved plan of development was about 1,100 homes. This request for a Minor General Plan Amendment, if approved, would increase the number of homes to over 1,400 homes. Mr. Miller also confirmed that they did not have to submit a design plan for the construction of Bethany Home Road until the 200th home building permit was pulled and did not have to start building Bethany Home Road until the 400th home building permit was pulled.

I went back and reviewed the Bethany Home Road Agreement between the John F. Long Trust (JFLT) and the city approved by the city council on April 26, 2016 (as well as the original Stonehaven Planned Area Development [PAD] allowing 1,100 homes). The following was agreed by both parties with regard to Bethany Home Road : “The Parties acknowledge that the Bethany Home Road Extension will be completed and accepted on or before January 1, 2022.” That’s 5 years from now.

In Section 3.4 of the agreement, JFLT (John F. Long Trust) will have final plans and specifications for the Bethany Home Road Extension completed by the civil engineer and approved by the Parties prior to the City’s issuance of the 275th home building permit for the Residential Development Parcel (subject to Force Majeure Events and any mutually-agreed extensions).” It is safe to assume that it will be several years before the Long Trust even has to turn in a design plan for Bethany Home Road to the city.

Under Section 4.2 it states, “JFLT will cause the general contractor to commence construction of the Bethany Home Road Extension prior to the City’s issuance of the 400th home building permit for the Residential Development Parcel and to achieve completion and acceptance within one (1) year thereafter (subject to Force Majeure Events and any mutually-agreed extensions), but in no event later than the Outside Completion Deadline (January 1, 2022).” How long will it be before the 400th home building permit is issued? Several years probably. In the meantime Stonehaven residents will have limited access to their newly created subdivision. It will certainly put even more pressure on the traffic flow on Camelback Road which is already a mess with the development of the D.L. Horton subdivision on the north side of Camelback Road at approximately 93rd Avenue.

Of even more concern and precedent setting was council’s approval within this agreement of a $1.2 million dollar payment to the Long Trust for the right-of-way needed for the proposed city construction of the north side of Bethany Home Road between 83rd Avenue and 91st Avenue. When a developer builds a subdivision the developer is responsible for paying for and constructing the roads that will serve its planned community. If it’s a major arterial road, such as Bethany Home Road, then the developer will dedicate the necessary right-of-way for the entire road but only pay for construction of its half of the road with the city being responsible for paying for construction of the other half of the road.

Not so in this case and that is what is precedent setting. A senior staffer, part of a “city team” that negotiated with the John F. Long trust, acknowledged that the city had asked Long for dedication of right-of-way for the north side of Bethany Home Road and that the Long Trust refused.  Having been refused its request, the city rolled over and negotiated a payment of $1.2 million dollars to the Long Trust for the right-of-way for the north side of Bethany Home Road. This is precedent setting. I know of no other instance where the city had to pay a developer for right-of-way for a major road that would serve a planned residential development.

Why didn’t the city team decide that if the trust was unwilling to make the necessary dedication for Bethany Home Road that perhaps the entire residential project should not be approved?  The city could have decided that if the trust was unwilling to make the necessary dedication precluding the full construction of Bethany Home Road that the proposed residents of the project would not have adequate ingress and egress from the project. Under that scenario, the Long Trust eager to sell the land to a developer, would have had to dedicate the right-of-way for the north side of Bethany Home Road, if it wanted to approval for Stonehaven and thus successfully complete the purchase of the land by a developer.

Stonehaven currently comprises over 300+ acres and proposes over 1,100+ homes. It looks nothing like Rovey Farm Estates, another planned area development. Rovey Farm estates had approximately the same acreage but only 800+ homes ranging on lot sizes from 7,000 square feet on the west side of the project to one acre lots on the east side of the project. It also contains 3 gated communities within it. If this Minor General Plan Amendment is approved instead of 1,100 homes on 300+ acres, it would be over 1,400 homes on 300+ acres.

Just as the city council listened to a neighborhood and denied the Bio-Life application at its January 10, 2017 meeting, let us hope that they will continue this practice and listen to a host of neighborhoods opposed to these applicants’ request for even greater density and the downsizing of lot sizes in this project.

Glendale has many, many starter homes and mid-level homes throughout the community. Isn’t it time to demand upscale, upgraded communities on the vacant parcels it has left? Shouldn’t the goal be to upgrade Glendale rather than build to the common denominator of what’s already there?

How does this Minor General Plan Amendment serve the best interests of Glendale’s existent residents and the soon-to-be new Stonehaven residents?

© 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.

The issue has been identified. Does Glendale practice a policy of using Glendale vendors first when it comes to its major events? Now we will look at policies, past practices, plans, politics and the players. Some policies center on the questions of downtown promotion vs. event cost recovery and the repeated reliance on the use of past vendors vs. an effort to educate and solicit appropriate local vendors.

In a memo sent to the city council and city staff, Glendale Chamber CEO Robert Heidt identified suggestions that could be implemented in choosing vendors for city events:

  1. Local businesses should receive preference for all events. Allotting a percentage to local businesses does not serve them well.
  2. Greater effort to educate local businesses about submission dates, procedures and deadlines widely available in various public media.
  3. Deciding jury on choosing of vendors should be composed of business members of the community.
  4. Institute workshops to educate businesses how they can take part in the events.
  5. Clear and consistent rules to be created on the use of event structures such as tents, A-frame designs, booth layouts food trucks.
  6. Glendale businesses receive first priority followed in order by, the West Valley, the Phoenix Metro area, statewide, and lastly out of state.
  7. Explanation, provision and appropriate enforcement of fees, sales taxes payable.
  8. Revise the sales of beverages to vendors, incorporating the use of local beverage vendors.
  9. Expand the ability of other non-profits to run the beverage tent.
  10. City to provide a timely solution to issues and problems as they arise.

I appreciate his thoughtfulness in identifying and providing solutions to this complex issue. He is to be commended. I would hope he would also consider using his leadership for another just as vexing issue. I have taken guests downtown to visit restaurants and specialty businesses only to find them closed on week days when one would expect them to be open. It becomes frustrating and disappointing but it demonstrates a greater problem that has plagued downtown Glendale for years and that is consistency in business hours by all downtown/Catlin Court merchants and restaurants. What if you went to your local Macy’s or Home Depot only to find them closed because they were open only when they felt like it? That’s what a visitor is confronted with downtown, especially on a Monday.  It is unprofessional and deters business much less repeat business. It’s time for downtown to get its act together and to have all downtown/Catlin Court businesses establish some basic, consistent hours when all commit to be open.

Now, in all fairness, the past four years have been tumultuous regarding the city manager’s position and thus city managerial leadership. Many issues were unattended to or left hanging.  After Ed Beasley left, there was Interim City Manager, Horatio Skeete, then the disaster that was City Manager Brenda Fisher, followed by an Interim stint by Dick Bowers and finally the hiring of City Manager Kevin Phelps. It was a period of confusion and belied a lack of continuity in city staff management…an understatement to say the least. Is it any wonder, city events and a plethora of other city issues were left to fester?

Kevin Phelps, in his short time as City Manager, has brought a measure of stability to city senior staff. He has already demonstrated his focus on problem solving.  The December 29, 2016 edition of the Glendale Star has an interview with Phelps, by Darrell Jackson. It bodes well for the future of Glendale’s major event productions. Some of his more interesting comments in this article include:  “After asking questions of city staff, I am not sure that anyone within City Hall could adequately describe what the mission (of these events) is.” or “If it is to drive business and expose people to downtown shops, then I am not sure the proliferation of bouncy rides and carnival foods is what we should be doing…In my mind, I am not excited about another carnival and light show next year.” and “I am leaning towards recommending creating a signature event that showcases the City of Glendale, as well as our downtown area, and cost recovery is not part of that. Phelps said his goal is to have changes in place by March so they can be included in next year’s budget.”

We all know “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Mr. Heidt is to be recognized for providing the squeak that led to the need for grease on the city event wheel. Many of his suggestions are common sense and I suspect, have already or will be adopted. However, suggestions 1, 3, 6 and 9 require further thought. His suggestions #1 and #6 call for Glendale businesses to receive priority in selection. If, as Mr. Phelps suggests, an upgrade of Glendale’s major events is the goal, moving away from a fast food, carnival-like atmosphere and perhaps adding quality restaurant offerings, wine, microbreweries and fine art vendors to become the norm then the operative word becomes “quality.” If there are quality Glendale vendors they should be welcome but if they sell hot dogs and pitchforks, should they receive preference merely because they are Glendale businesses? I think not.

Mr. Heidt’s suggestion #3 is no solution to the issue of being juried in to an event. He calls for a jury composed of community business members.  It’s no better than currently having staff jury vendors. In each case, it’s like having the “fox guard the hen house.” Each group would seem to have a vested interest. Perhaps it’s time to create an independent jury comprised of leaders in their respective industries, trades or crafts from outside the city.

Mr. Heidt’s suggestion #9 calling for other non-profits to work the city’s beverage tent is simply an expression of lack of historical memory and should not be seriously considered.  For the past 22 years the Glendale Ambassadors have operated the city’s beverage tent at downtown special events. They have proven to be reliable and consistent. You can count on them to fulfill their responsibilities. The Ambassadors were created by Glendale‘s leaders to support and to promote the City of Glendale and they have always done so.

Manning the city’s beverage tent is their primary and only source of annual income. What they earn goes right back into our community. Over the past 22 years they have given back $315,000 to at least 60 organizations, typically non-profit. Their donations are too numerous to mention all but here are a few representative groups: Boys & Girls Club of Glendale; Glendale Fire Department’s crisis response van and cadets; Glendale Police Department’s vests for its K9 program and Dare; Glendale’s Heart for the City; the Mayor’s Alliance against Drugs & Gangs; Velma Teague Library Mother Read Program; and the Westside Food Bank’s Senior Brown Bag Program.

Why on God’s green earth would we want to take away the Glendale Ambassador’s primary funding source in favor of some entity that doesn’t have this kind of track record? It makes no sense unless it was suggested to serve someone’s personal affinity for a particular non-profit group who wants in on the action.

Mr. Phelps and Mr. Heidt are to be commended for their shared commitment to make Glendale’s event future better. Mr. Phelps’ desire to upgrade Glendale’s events will certainly cause some of Mr. Heidt’s suggestions to be considered and some of the others to be moot but there is common ground between them. Working together is a win-win for Glendale.

© 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.

For the entire month of December the Glendale Star has been running a series of stories by Darrell Jackson (go to www.glendalestar.com ) regarding the vendors used at Glendale’s four premier events that occur from the end of November until early February. These four events are Glendale Glitters opening weekend, Glendale Glitters weekends in December, the Glitter and Glow Block Party ending event and the Chocolate Affaire.

The issue is does Glendale really put local Glendale businesses first when accepting vendor applications for these events? It is a question that has been raised by local vendors for several years, whose applications appear to be routinely rejected but it only boiled to the surface when the Glendale Chamber of Commerce CEO Robert Heidt became the local vendors’ champion.

Let’s look at some statistics. “Over the past three years (2012, 2013 and 2014), the city has received 1,204 applications to be a vendor at one of the four major events (cited above). Of those, the city has approved 739 with only 15.29% (113) coming from Glendale businesses and 84.71% (626) coming from other businesses.” (Glendale Star, December 15, 2016).

“When it comes to local food merchants, the city has received 213 total applications for the current season with 92 (43.19%) being approved over that time. Of the 92 approved food vendors, 13 (14.13%) have been from Glendale while 79 (85.86%) have been from non-Glendale food vendors. The 2017 Chocolate Affaire has no local businesses approved, with 11 local businesses denied, while 19 businesses were approved to participate.” (Glendale Star, December 15, 2016).

Kim Larson, Glendale Public Facilities, Recreation and Special Events spokesperson, has said, “As long as they meet the minimum requirements, absolutely, we give them a priority. According to city documents, the minimum requirements are, ‘a menu with pricing, photos of products and booth set up, and a $25 (non-refundable) application fee.’ The application asks vendors if they would like a 10X10 prime booth for an additional $150, or a 10X20 prime spot for an additional $200. Each approved vendor is provided with a two-plug, 20 AMP outlet but they can request additional power for an additional $25 to $100.” (Glendale Star, December 8, 2016).

After the application process closes a jury of staff reviews the applications and makes the final selection of vendors.  “The jury for the current season consisted of three members of city staff – Simms, Heidi Barriga (Special Events) and Cameron Dewaele (Parks and Recreation.” (Glendale Star, December 29, 2016). “Once a vendor is approved, they then pay $65 for a background check.” (Glendale Star, December 8, 2016).

“All food vendors are required to purchase any bottled beverages (water, soda and ice) from Kalil Bottling –an official city sponsor – at $15 per case and must sell them for $2 apiece. Vendors who participate are required to pay 20% of their gross income to the city, which helps offset the cost of events. Larson said the city estimates the revenue to be approximately $250,000 from vendors.” (Glendale Star, December 8, 2016).

“…two vendors who have been approved numerous times and are part of the current events, reported to the Glendale Star that they have never been billed by the city and have never written a tax check to the city.” (Glendale Star, December 22, 2016). Vickie Rios, Glendale’s Finance Director, could not confirm this assertion but indicated that if it had happened in the past, it would not occur in the future.

As you can see, it can be quite pricey to become a vendor at a Glendale event. Having participated as a potter in many regional events for over 20 years (I no longer produce handcrafted pottery) the costs to vendors are not unreasonable. There is always overhead and there is a cost for everyone to do business whether you are in a shop or participate in outdoor events. If a vendor cannot make enough revenue to cover the costs of operation plus a profit, then that vendor should rethink its operation.

One of the essential concerns surrounding this issue rests upon the mission of Glendale’s special events. “(Kim) Larson said, ‘As the mission of Glendale’s special events is to promote and brand downtown Glendale as a destination to attract new visitors and shoppers, and foster community pride among residents, the Special Events Division does its absolute best to maximize revenue to offset our productions costs so we can continue to provide free admission to our community festivals.’” (Glendale Star, December 8, 2016). This mission statement is schizophrenic, to say the very least. The goal of cost recovery and the goal of promoting downtown Glendale are not usually compatible. So, the very first question to ask is a policy question for the Glendale city council. Should the city policy be to promote downtown Glendale (at a cost to taxpayers) or to continue to implement the goal of cost recovery?

Another question about policy comes from comments made by Erik Strunk, Glendale’s new Public Facilities, Recreation and Special Events Director, “Strunk said the city advertises the vendor application process online (via various media forms). Additionally, we have developed a master list of anyone who has applied in the past few years…This list is used each year to send a mass e-mail…and encourage interested vendors to apply.” (Glendale Star, December 22, 2016). This process seems to hint at a policy of returning to the same well, year after year, by alerting previous participants to apply. Again, another policy question for city council is evident. Will it be policy to make a concerted effort to educate and attract more local vendors or will the city rely upon past vendors, who seemingly up to this point, have been used repeatedly because the city’s past experience with them affords a level of comfort?

In Part II of Glendale First? we will look at the policies, past practices, plans, politics and the players.

© 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.

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.

As readers of this blog know I have been opposed to the idea of a temporary modular building (trailer) as our west branch library in Heroes Park. I and many, many residents of the Yucca district consider this an insult, as if that is all that we deserve after waiting 18 years.

After the city council acceptance of the Canvass of Votes I was invited to meet on October 7, 2016, with appropriate city personnel regarding the plans for this library. I had requested a meeting after it came to my attention that approximately $2 million dollars would be available for its construction and it appeared that the cost to build a permanent, phase I of a brick ‘n’ mortar branch library would be virtually the same as the cost of a modular building. My meeting with city staff confirmed that $2 million dollars would be sufficient for either a brick & mortar building or a modular building.

Based upon that information and learning that the next step would be to secure city council approval to move forward with the design, I requested that the design process incorporate plans for a permanent brick & mortar building as well as the modular design. The modular design had been directed by city council in a previous action.

I was successful in getting the design for a permanent brick & mortar included in the proposed city council action and on December 20, 2016, city council authorized the City Manager to enter into a Professional Services Agreement with Dick and Fritsche Design Group, Inc. (DFDG) to provide design and architectural drawings for the potential Heroes Branch Library, within Heroes Regional Park located at West Bethany Home Road and North 83rd Avenue, in an amount not to exceed $410,090. Here is the link to that city council meeting: http://glendale-az.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=2597&meta_id=55164 .

Below is the schedule of work.  As can be seen, it will be 9 months to create the design and construction documents. Although that seems to be very slow, in city terms, it is fast and being expedited. I will monitor the progress of the various steps to make sure the timeline remains intact. The next milestone will be for city council to award a construction contract to build in approximately September of 2017. I will continue to advocate for and seek acceptance from council for the permanent brick & mortar west branch library building. Knowing that the costs are virtually the same for either type of building it would make economic sense that a permanent structure be built with the capacity for future expansion. The library itself will be completed and open for business approximately August of 2018.

·       Notice to Proceed                                                                        1/2/17  

·       Program Verification – Site Analysis                                          1/2/17-1/13/17 (2 weeks)

·       Schematic Design                                                                         1/16/17-2/24/17 (6 weeks)

·       Design Development                                                                   2/27/17-4/21/17 (8 weeks)

·       Construction Documents                                                            3/1/17-3/31/17, 4/24/17-6/16/17

                                                                                                                (8 wks.)

·       Plan Review and Permit / Prepare Bid Docs.                            6/19/17-8/11/17   (8 weeks)

·       Bid                                                                                                    8/14/17-9/8/17 (4 weeks)

·       Notice to Proceed                                                                         9/11/17-10/20/17   (6 weeks)

·       Council Award                                                                                10/12/17 

·       Construction                                                                                   10/23/17-7/27/18 (40 weeks)

·       Close out – Occupy                                                                         7/30/18-8/24/18 (4 weeks)

·       Final Acceptance                                                                            8/27/18

I will also continue to advocate for additional elements of Heroes Park, also long overdue. Nearly every district has its points of pride from the Foothills Library and Foothills Recreation & Aquatic Center, to Sahuaro Ranch, to Thunderbird Paseo Racquet Center, to Murphy Park and the Civic Center. It’s time for west Glendale to have its major amenity and its point of pride completed.

© 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.

People always wonder and ask what a councilmember really does. Over the next four years of my term as the Yucca district councilmember I may be able to provide you with some answers. I was reelected as the Yucca district councilmember in August of 2016.

After the formal city council acceptance of the Canvass of Votes I began to receive phone calls and requests for meetings. Prior to officially taking office on December 13, 2016 I spent several hundred hours in October and November preparing for office and participating as a councilmember elect.  Since the beginning of October I have had approximately 30 luncheon meetings with community stakeholders, city staff and city councilmembers; more than a dozen “coffee” meetings primarily with residential development interests; and attended more than a half dozen city/community events from HOA annual meetings, to an COG airport open house to the Glendale Christmas parade.

As councilmember elect I began receiving council material for voting meetings and workshops. I spent hours reviewing the material and firing off memos to the city manager and staff asking for answers to questions I had as councilmember elect.  I also personally attended city council voting meetings and workshops on Tuesdays prior to taking office.

Much time was spent reconnecting with various stakeholders and rebuilding positive relationships with them. Another chunk of time was used to bring me up to speed on various city and Yucca district issues by meeting with city personnel. Yet more time was used to prepare for council meetings and to attend various city events.

I suspect since councilmembers are usually seen only on Glendale’s Cable 11 TV, most people think that is all that they do. Not true. It’s a major time commitment with irregular work hours. A simple lunch meeting can easily take 2 hours if you include travel time. A city function such as a public community event or a neighborhood meeting will also consume several hours and many are evening events. The same can be said for a formal council meeting or workshop. Preparation time for council meetings and workshops can easily take a day or more, especially if a councilmember requires meetings or communications with various city staff for further clarification on issues.

A city councilmember has three major responsibilities: to make decisions regarding the city’s public policy on a potpourri of issues; to represent the interests and points of view of Glendale’s residents, especially one’s district constituents; and to represent the leadership of Glendale not only at city functions but at local, regional, state and national venues and organizations.

To accomplish all of these responsibilities each councilmember has access to two taxpayer-funded budgets. The first is a Professional Development budget of $18,000 annually. These funds may be used for trips such as the state or national League of Cities and Towns annual meetings. The money can be used for dues/membership fees to organizations and or activities a councilmember needs to connect to the community, such as the local Chamber of Commerce or the WestMarc Annual State of the State Dinner. This budget can be used for subscriptions to publications such as the Phoenix Business Journal. These are activities that enhance the councilmember’s effectiveness and would not be an ordinary activity or expense as a private citizen. Lastly it can be used to support the ordinary functions of the office such as business cards, letterhead, a computer or tablet or activities such as contributions for flowers for a memorial service of a prominent Glendale personage.

The second councilmember budget is a District Improvement budget of $15,000 annually. It is to be used for minor infrastructure improvements within the councilmember’s district. It can be used in parks to plant trees, do minor repairs to park equipment, repaint park equipment. It can be used to make neighborhood improvements, such as repair of subdivision monument signage. It can also be used for examples such as landscape improvements to a public element within a subdivision or installation or repair of curb, gutter or sidewalks. Some councilmembers have used these funds to make contributions to non-profit organizations or to sponsor city events. I, personally, do not believe that these activities are an appropriate use of taxpayer funded public infrastructure improvements.

I plan on using my council Professional Development budget for 2 major functions: to support the rental cost of meeting space and refreshments for regular Yucca district meetings; and to create, print and mail a Spring and Fall edition of the Yucca district newsletter to every household that has a water bill. One newsletter mailing to Yucca residents is anticipated to cost between $5,000 to $7,000 (primary cost is postage). Even though it is a major expense, I believe it is important to provide this mailing because not everyone has access to a computer and some residents, especially seniors, may not be computer literate enough to access all city material available on the internet. I will continue to use social media, my Facebook page, Twitter and my blog page, www.joyceclarkunfiltered.com as major means of outreach to those Yucca district residents who are computer savvy and regularly visit these sites.

In December I have spent the following amounts from my Professional Development budget with an inherited starting balance from the former councilmember of $13,113.93:

·       $87.28 for Councilmember business cards

·       $299.21 for Councilmember letterhead stationery and envelopes

·       $45.86 for a Councilmember name plate and business card holder for my desk

·       $100.00 as my portion of the cost for rental of the Sahuaro fruit packing shed for a mayor and council sponsored event inviting all West Valley mayors and councils

I did not have to buy a tablet to conduct city business as I inherited the former councilmember’s city tablet. After deducting these December, 2016 expenses my Professional Development budget has a January 1, 2017 starting balance of $12,581.58. Councilmembers recently directed staff to publish their monthly expenditures and these expenditures can be found at: http://www.glendaleaz.com/CityCouncil/FinancialStatements.cfm .

I inherited an Infrastructure budget of $12,500 from the former councilmember. I need your help. This is where you come in. If you are a Yucca district resident I suspect you have seen many areas of our district that need repair. Have you seen subdivision monument signage in need of repair? Or have you seen one of our district parks that could use some further landscaping or repair/painting of equipment? Perhaps you have seen spots in need of curb, gutter or sidewalk repair? These funds can be used on city property or public right of way for improvements. Or do you have an idea for a public project with a cost of no more than $12,000?

I am soliciting suggestions from you until January 31, 2017. Any and all ideas are most welcome. This is your opportunity to participate in your local government. Please submit your suggestions with the following information, your name, and your return email address or phone number; the address of problem; description of the suggested improvement; and if you can, include a photo of the problem area. You may send the information to: clarkjv@aol.com; jclark@glendaleaz.com; post a comment to my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/joyce.clark.338  ; or post a comment to this blog topic.

I believe a councilmember’s Professional Development budget should be used primarily for outreach to either one’s constituents or to the community-at-large. That is why I intend to use it to hold district meetings and to publish district information. I also intend to use it for councilmember related memberships and activities. As a private citizen there are many events, local and regional, I would not be required to attend but as a councilmember I would be expected to participate. I will use this budget to attend local and regional dinners and conferences.

A councilmember’s Infrastructure Improvement budget was designed to allow a councilmember to invest in improving his or her district. The intent when it was created was not to grant money to non-profits. It is always possible that a councilmember could grant money from this budget to a non-profit that constituents could think was inappropriate. I will use this budget to make minor district improvements.

Next blog up…good news about the west branch library!

© 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.

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