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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.

After posting on the two BreakThru/Through ministries, I received these photos this morning from a reader and I though I would share them. It was taken this morning. The question to be answered is BreakThru Ministries paying rent to the City of Glendale for the use of its Youth Center for its Sunday services?

BreakThru Ministries service at the Glendale Youth Center

This photo, again sent by the reader, is a screen shot from the internet posted by BreakThru Ministries advertising its Sunday service at the Glendale Youth Center.

I have no animus toward this church but I strongly believe in the Constitutional mandate of separation of church and state. If this church is paying rent to the city it is legal and legitimate and fulfills the requirement of separation of church and state. 

If it does not, then it is in violation and Ocotillo Councilmember Jamie Aldama is endorsing and associating with, for want of a better term, a rogue organization. The question becomes if the Councilmember knowingly associates with this group who may not be in compliance, it then becomes fair game to look at and to question his other associations. It is scrutiny everyone who runs for office often faces.

© 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.

There are two “Breakthru/Through” entities co-existing in Glendale and one is certainly not like the other. The only similarity they share is that both are religious ministries with very similar names. It makes for a fascinating political dynamic in Glendale’s current election cycle.

One entity is called “Breakthru Ministries.” In its last hosting of an event in the city’s downtown Murphy Park it bore the responsibility for the trashing of one of the computer rooms in Glendale’s City Hall resulting in over $50,000 worth of damage. Apparently, a group of youth attendees of the event gained access to enter city hall from “Breakthru Ministries” representatives. There appeared to be no adult supervision of these youth resulting in the damage. It is my understanding that eventually the insurance carrier that the city required “Breakthru Ministries” to have for the event paid the claim.

 “Breakthru Ministries” also hosts religious services every Sunday morning at the Glendale Youth Center in the Barrio. It is my understanding that they pay no rent for the use of this city facility for their Sunday church services. That is a violation of federal laws regarding the separation of church and state. A non-profit, including churches, may rent government facilities but a governmental entity may not sponsor church activities by allowing the use of a facility for free. It is my understanding that such is the case with “Breakthru Ministries.”

“Breakthru Ministries” has an ally in Councilmember Jamie Aldama. Aldama and disgraced former Councilmember Sammy Chavira each donated from their council budgets to sponsor the event cited above that occurred in Murphy Park resulting in $50,000+ worth of damage. It appears that Councilmember Aldama continues to support this organization. On his Facebook Reelection page Aldama publicizes and endorses a recent “Breakthru Ministries” event. It was held on February 25, 2018 at the Glendale Youth Center, 5401 W. Ocotillo Road. Did the organization pay the city to use this space for their event in a city facility? Does the organization pay rent to use the Youth Center for its Sunday church services? Did Councilmember Aldama financially support this event by making a contribution from his council budget (your money, your tax dollars at work) to support this event?

Aldama is up for reelection for the Ocotillo district council seat this year and it looks like he needs all the friends he can get including dubious ones such as “Breakthru Ministries.”

Now, the other “Breakthru/Through” is an entirely different entity. It is called “Breakthrough Life Church.” It was founded by Emmanuel Allen and his wife, Belinda.  They also founded the “Roots Recreational and Learning Center, Inc.”  Allen’s “Roots” program is located at the city’s O’Neil Park Recreation Center and coincidentally, he also hosts church services at the Glendale Youth Center.

The “Roots” program at O’Neil Park was a successful bid selected by the city to provide programming for children living in a low-socio demographic area of Glendale. It appears to be highly successful and the O’Neil Recreation Center, a city facility, is always packed with children after school. The feedback from area residents is that the kids love the activities available at the center and Emmanuel Allen who is there every day.

One glaring difference between the two “Break Throughs” is that “Breakthrough Life Church” does indeed pay rent to the city to use the Youth Center for its religious services. Another, more subtle difference, is that “Breakthru Ministries” seems to feed off the community while “Breakthrough Life” seems to feed the community. While subtle, it is important to note.

What makes these two entities so intriguing is the political dynamic associated with each. Emmanuel Allen happens to be Jamie Aldama’s opponent in this year’s Ocotillo council district election. What is interesting to note is two days after a recent City Council Executive Session, Aldama’s campaign manager, Chuck Foy, filed a Freedom of Information Request (FOIA) for all correspondence between any city personnel and Emmanuel Allen. Did Aldama commit an Open Meeting Law violation by sharing information he learned during the Executive Session with his campaign manager Chuck Foy? Why the FOIA? Aldama, through his surrogate campaign manager, appears to be mining for any possible political dirt.  

As you can see, in this case, one thing is not like the other. The same can be said of the two candidates for the Ocotillo district council seat…one is not like the other.

Welcome to Glendale’s political season.

© 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.

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.

Have you developed a commercial or residential project in Glendale, Arizona?  We are seeking an engineer or architect, a commercial developer and a residential developer who has interacted with various city departments while locating a project in Glendale.

Are you a small (1-24 employees), medium (25-99 employees) or large (100+) business owner in Glendale, Arizona? Are you a woman owned or minority owned business owner in Glendale, Arizona?

Applications available at: www.glendaleaz.com/boardsandcommissions/citycouncilandbusinessleaders.cfm

THEN WE NEED YOU!

We are accepting final applications for membership on the Glendale temporary (one year) Council-Business subcommittee. It’s mission is to review all business related codes and regulations to streamline them, removing obsoletion and redundancy while making recommendations to the full Glendale City Council. The subcommittee will also recommend new strategies designed to make Glendale the most business friendly city in the Valley.

© 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.

My latest blog on code compliance generated a lot of email commentary. So, I thought it might be fun to ask all of you to comment by sharing what code violation(s) is(are) the favorite(s) one(s) you hate?

I have three favorites. The first is residents putting out bulk trash right after it has been picked up. The second is front yard parking. It makes Glendale look like “hicks and sticks, cows and plows.” The third are the flag banners in front of businesses. There is one down the street from my home advertising income tax services.  With the sun and the wind it doesn’t take long for them to deteriorate. These banners are completely illegal. I have yet to see code remove any of them.

What code violations drive you crazy? Please respond in the comment section and I will copy and paste below.

  • Never knew the flags were illegal – but we never sold any or used them as they do fall apart quickly! My pet peeve is the cars in the front yards – just makes the neighborhood look trashy!
  • Barking dogs and dog waste that is not cleaned-up and disposed of by the dog owner or walker.
  • Hi Joyce,. My biggest peeve is the roads with large cracks and pot holes rhat make our neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods look like the ghetto. In addition cars parked in the wrong direction, cars parked on the sidewalk and front yard, travel trailer parked out on the street and has not been moved for over 6 months (cobwebs), mail advertisements delibertly tossed on the ground at the community mailbox, dirt and/or infested with weeds front yards.
  • I hate weeds and trash in the gutters on the street. We do need for our street sweeper to run more often.
  • I would agree on the trash bulk pickup, either being to late or way too early on it.
    How the city does not just send a ticket scout to make some easy money, or better yet alert the community to it is a shame. My other pet piece is probably the parking of Very large RVs in the street corners, creating blind spots for kids to get hurt. If you don’t have the room to park it, you don’t need to own it.
  • – Bulk Trash out the day after it just get picked up, especially when my neighbors put it in the street (Sec. 18-108. – Bulk trash collection) The messes that are made by people trash picking is also a concern.
    – Continuous Yard Sales, (Sec. 7.305 – Yard Sales)
    – Neighbors letting water run down the sidewalk into the gutter (Sec. 30-4. – Discharge of water into streets prohibited)
  • My complaint is Part 2 of the untimely trash placement: once one household puts out its discards it seems to inspire other residents to do the same. It triggers
    a contagious urge to discard — NOW. —compounding the problem.
  • A personal fav of mine is pool drainers. People who put their backwash hose under their gate and just walk away. This one gets me because often you can follow the water back to the source.However I Do disagree with the parking in the yard. While there IS an obvious blight factor is you have 3 1983 Civics and Chevys taken apart and grease everywhere, why should my $40,000 toy hauler or my $20,000 bass boat be ticketed because it’s on the opposite side of my garage on rocks, pavers, or concrete? I don’t live in an HOA, It’s not “unsightly”, it’s not obstructive, it IS my yard.

     

    Just my $0.02.

  • The thing that drives me crazy is all the little signs that clutter the main intersections that read “I buy houses” “Looking for investors” “I will replace your windshield” “Learn to flip houses” “I buy gold”, etc. etc. They are also zip-tying these to traffic signs, and now I am seeing them littering neighborhoods.

    Aren’t these illegal? against the city ordinance? (blight) Why can’t the city contact these people/call the number on the sign and tell them to stop it, or go after them for littering, or blight, etc. Glendale looks like a crap-hole by allowing these. Can’t this be enforced?

© 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.

This is a blog way overdue. There are so many issues revolving around the city’s code compliance department that it’s difficult to know where to begin. As councilmembers code is by far the issue that we and our staffs deal with constantly. There isn’t a day that goes by that we all don’t receive code complaints.

Ever since he joined council, Councilmember Ray Malnar has pushed for code reforms. Shortly he will put together an informal working group to review code and to make recommendations for reform. I am happily looking forward to joining his working group. After all, we councilmembers deal with code issues on a daily basis and know what the greatest issues are.

Let me begin by relating some history. In July of 1993, council passed Ordinance Number 1772. It was the first major revision to code in many years. This ordinance encompassed major revisions to the entire body of city code. Here is the first paragraph of this ordinance: Section 1.100 Title. The ordinance shall be known and may be cited as the ‘Zoning Ordinance of the City of Glendale, Arizona.’ Within the ordinance text, it shall be cited as ‘this ordinance’. (Ord. No. 1772, 7-23-93)”.

The ordinance goes on to state, 1.204 Repealer and Severability. The provisions of this ordinance, insofar as they are substantially the same as the provisions of ordinances repealed in Subsection A of this section, shall be construed as restatements and continuations thereof and not as new enactments (bold mine).” In plain English the provisions of this ordinance did not create new law but were crafted to further clarify existing law.

The ordinance clearly states that if any provisions create greater restrictions they are to be followed as stated in this portion of the text, “1.205 Conflict With Other Rules or Regulations. Where this ordinance imposes a greater restriction on land, buildings or structures than is imposed or required by other existing provisions of law, ordinance, contract or deed, the provisions of this ordinance shall control (bold mine).” This provision seems to reject the concept of “grandfathering” which allows a property or home existing prior to 1993 to be exempt from the new ordinance provisions. Based upon the language of this ordinance any new code provisions or regulations will be considered as refinements of existent code and it mandates that greater restrictions are to be recognized and applied.

One of the new provisions within this ordinance addresses the subject of residential parking specifically with reference to zoning districts R 1-10 (10,000 square foot lot sizes), R 1-8 (8,000 SF), R 1-7 (7,000 SF) and R 1-6 (6,000 SF). The text reads as follows:

“Section 5.300 URBAN RESIDENTIAL

R1-10, R1-8, R1-7–Single Residence.

Section 5.313 R1-6–Single Residence.

5.3184 Parking.

Refer to Section 5.312.

(Ord. No. 2090, § 3, 7-27-99)

5.312 Parking.

  1. Parking and driveways are permitted as follows: (See Figures R-1 and R-2)
  2. A parking area may not exceed thirty (30) feet of contiguous area or fifty (50) percent of the lot width as measured at the front yard setback, whichever is less.
  3. Within the front yard, a parking/driveway area is only allowed between the garage or carport and the street, except an area contiguous to the allowed parking/driveway which is consistent with the dimensions in #1 above.
  4. No parking is permitted in the front yard when the parking area:
  5. Is detached from the allowed parking/driveway area; or Would result in an area greater than the allowable width as described in #1 above.
  6. Circular driveways and similar circulation may be permitted within the front yard so long as:

                      A.  No long term resident parking occupies such circular drive; and

                      B.  The front yard contains no more than fifty (50) percent of the total square                                 footage in parking/driveway or other circulation.

           (Ord. No. 1772, 7-23-93)”

Does it occur to anyone that you almost need a PhD to understand the language and to apply the code? Although I’m sure the language meets the technical requirements of the law but as is usually the case, it’s difficult for the ordinary citizen to understand much less follow its requirements.

Now let’s throw this into the mix. The ordinance also grants the Planning Director the right to interpret provisions of the ordinance, “Section 3.400 Interpretations, Administrative Relief, and Administrative Review.

3.401 Interpretations.

  1. The Planning Director shall be responsible for interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance. Interpretations may be considered if there is a question of clarity of any development standard or other provision of this ordinance, or a review is required (bold mine) within the permitted use categories of a specified zone district.
  2. Prior to determining that a use is permitted within a specific zoning district, the Planning Director shall find that:
  3. The use is described and included in the zoning district;
  4. The intensity of the use will not adversely affect other properties within the district; (bold mine)”

This provision will become more relevant as I relate a series of current code complaints. Recently the city council has received a series of complaints from residents in the Ocotillo district about front yard parking. It appears that our code department is not acting upon them. Last year I had offered the same concerns about the very same issue to our code department. What seems to be occurring these days is that some residents are covering their entire front yards with concrete or pavers and then using the entire front yard as a parking lot for multitudes of their vehicles. In my district I have seen entire front yards covered with pavers and concrete.  Here’s an example from my district. As you can see the entire front yard has recently been concreted. I have seen multiple vehicles parked there and in this photo some are parked right in front of the front door of the residence.

I filed complaints about this activity with the code department last year. In response I was advised that these were not violations or the case was closed. Why you ask? Clearly (or maybe not so clearly) the 1993 ordinance spells out that that “no more than 30 feet of contiguous area or 50% of the front yard lot width” may be used for driveways and parking.  Common sense would seem to dictate that if you have concreted or paved your entire front yard and then use it for parking more than 3 vehicles you are in violation of code.

Ahh… but not so fast. Within the material  of the ordinance I cited above, the Planning Director can interpret any provision of this 1993 ordinance. Never, ever, in all my 17 years on city council have I ever seen the code department go to the Planning Director to ask for an interpretation of whether something is a code violation. That is exactly what code did in the Ocotillo district where front yard parking was becoming a major problem last year. In response to the code department’s request, the Planning Director toured the area in question and said that since the homes in that area were built prior to 1993 they were grandfathered in and the 1993 ordinance regulating front yard parking did not apply. He further stated that he did not believe it was out of character for the affected neighborhood.

Last year after the Ocotillo district complaints, I complained about exactly the same problem. Code used the Planning Director’s interpretation for that unrelated neighborhood in the Ocotillo council district as the basis for not citing exactly the same activity in my district and led me to believe that the Planning Director had toured my area of complaint as well. In fact, he did not. The opinion he offered in a memo to the code department was in direct response to the Ocotillo neighborhood parking issue, not mine.

Correction at 9 PM Feb. 9, 2018: After reviewing my code material I find that I misrepresented the Planning Director’s opinion. When I said Code can be confusing, I wasn’t kidding. The Planning Director was asked by the Code Department to tour the Maryvale Terrace area in the Ocotillo district last year. His opinion centered strictly on the installation and use of auxiliary driveways. In his opinion regarding that area he supported the installation of an auxiliary driveway to be used to enter an RV gate thereby allowing the property owner’s RV to be parked behind the gate. At that time he opined that auxiliary driveways were not out of character for that neighborhood and were permissible for that purpose. In addition, my notes indicate that the Planning Director did in fact tour the neighborhood in my district where I had registered complaints. He indicated that it is not a violation to have pavers or concrete to serve as additional driveways that are to be used for access through an RV gate to park in a backyard. He also opined that it is a violation to park on these surfaces where it is considered to be front yard parking and a code violation.

The question remains, why is the code department using this narrowly crafted opinion as a rationale to not cite for front yard parking? This photo clearly shows the homeowners are definitely in violation of front yard parking. The second question that remains valid is why was historical precedent ignored by the code department by asking the Planning Director to decide whether an issue is a code violation? As I stated previously, this is a first in my 17 year history as a councilmember.

What happened to Section 1.205 of the 1993 ordinance that states that greater restrictions within this ordinance prevail? If you follow the logic of code’s request of and acceptance of the Planning Director’s interpretation on this code matter in an Ocotillo neighborhood built before 1993, what does mean for other ordinance provisions that apply to all neighborhoods built prior to the 1993 ordinance? For instance, group home restrictions are enhanced in the 1993 ordinance. According to the code department’s reliance upon using the Planning Director’s interpretation for just one neighborhood built before 1993, it now opens the door for all other neighborhoods established prior to 1993. It would appear if a group home is established in a home built before 1993, then the 1993 restrictions do not apply. I didn’t go through the entire code but I bet there are other restrictions in the 1993 ordinance that also could be interpreted as not applying to a home built prior to 1993.

These actions raise several very important questions. Which concept within the 1993 ordinance is to be followed? The concept that greater restrictions prevail or the concept that the Planning Director can waive or interpret code requirements for neighborhoods built before 1993 (the concept of “grandfathering”)?

Code’s action of requesting the Planning Director to decide code requirements is precedent setting and opens the door wide for an unequal application of the 1993 ordinance as code has now accepted a rationale that enables it not to follow the proscription, “Where this ordinance imposes a greater restriction on land, buildings or structures than is imposed or required by other existing provisions of law, ordinance, contract or deed, the provisions of this ordinance shall control.”

My frustration is with code’s inability or unwillingness to address issues such as excessive front yard parking. It’s no wonder citizens are upset. I have heard repeatedly from folks all over the city that Glendale doesn’t look good anymore and they point to code’s ineffectiveness. I am not the only councilmember dissatisfied with the code department’s performance. Many, but not all, councilmembers have expressed the same dissatisfaction.

The leadership of the code department has expressed the belief that my and other councilmembers’ dissatisfaction with the department’s performance is a direct result of a lack of staff. But that is not the issue. It’s not whether there are 5 or 15 code inspectors but rather the effectiveness of the results of the actions taken by whatever the number of staff the department has in resolving an issue (and yes, that should include citing a resident for not following code).

Another code department rationale for a lack of successful resolution is that the department states that unless the complaint is ironclad in terms of proof of violation, city prosecutors will not file a case. Perhaps what is needed is the department taking more time and making a greater effort to meet the requirements of the prosecutors’ office to bring forward successful cases for adjudication. If the prosecutors’ office requires greater proof of a violation by completing actions A, B and C it would seem that is what code should be striving to meet. Leadership has said that they have taken cases to the Prosecutors’ Office only to be told that the case is too weak. Then it becomes incumbent upon code to do further work on a case to make it strong enough to be prosecuted.

I am anxious to participate on the working group that Councilmember Malnar will lead. If parts of code are outdated, we will recommend their removal. If parts of code are too weak, we will find ways to beef them up. If there are new issues that need remedies, we will find them. Keep in mind that this working group will have no formal authority so its conclusions may or may not be accepted. Perhaps most important of all, it is time for greater transparency and accountability and those are elements we must require of this department.

It’s time to make all  of Glendale look good again.

© 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.

FYI: The council discussion of the issue of renaming Bethany Home Road to Cardinals’ Way is now scheduled for a February council meeting as this Tuesday’s workshop has been cancelled.

I still remain opposed to the new schedule of Glendale city council meetings. The new schedule calls for city council to meet only two Tuesdays a month (instead of four) with its workshop starting at 12:30 PM and its regular voting meeting following on the same day at 5 PM. While it is extremely convenient for some of the councilmembers, I doubt it’s very convenient for the people who voted for us. They want access and this schedule of meetings robs them of yet another opportunity to attend.

It’s not enough just to say that this schedule is difficult. What is required is taking a look at council meeting schedules of other cities in the Valley. I found some cities’ schedules online. Let’s see who thinks what of their constituents. These cities retain schedules that insure their citizens greater access:

  • Phoenix, the big gorilla in the room, meets on Tuesdays at 2:30 PM for their workshop/policy meetings and Wednesdays at 2:30 PM for their formal voting meetings
  • Chandler has their workshop/study sessions at 7 PM on 2 Mondays a month and their regular voting meetings at 7 PM on 2 Thursdays a month
  • Mesa hosts its workshop/study sessions at 7:30 AM every Thursday and special study sessions at 4 PM and voting meetings at 5:45 PM on the first and third Mondays of the month
  • Tempe has its workshop/study sessions at 4 PM on 2 Thursdays a month and their E sessions at 4 PM and voting meetings at 6 PM on alternating Thursdays
  • Scottsdale has its workshop/study sessions on Tuesdays at 4 PM and their voting meetings at 5 PM on alternating Tuesdays
  • Gilbert has its workshop/special sessions at 7 AM on Tuesdays and its voting meetings at 6:30 PM on Thursdays

There are only a few cities that think so little of their public’s convenience. I could only find 3 cities that have their meetings on the same day:

  • Peoria has its workshop/study sessions at 5:30 PM and its voting meetings at 7 PM on two Tuesdays a month
  • Surprise has its workshop/special sessions at 4 PM and its voting meetings at 6 PM on two Tuesdays a month
  • Goodyear has its workshop/study sessions at 5 PM and its voting meetings at 6 PM

And now add Glendale to this list. The current meeting schedule an affront to our citizens…when was this proposal offered to our public? Where was the opportunity offered for public comment? It also robs councilmembers of the requisite time to prepare and to perform their due diligence on a myriad of issues.

Chandler, Gilbert, Tempe and Scottsdale are most comparable to Glendale and they continue to retain the wisdom of splitting up their meetings and alternating their meeting days. Apparently these councils reject the idea of squishing their meetings together to better serve their convenience and realize that not only do they need time to prepare but their citizens deserve a reasonable opportunity to attend these meetings.

Now, I understand at a future workshop, council will discuss the possibility of a new start time for its voting meetings. It’s really starting to get confusing and schizophrenic. Rumor has it that some councilmembers want to go back to the 6 PM start time but the mayor prefers retaining the new 5 PM start time. I suspect a compromise will occur and a new start time of 5:30 PM may be adopted. Talk about confusion…first it’s 6 PM, then 5 PM…and now perhaps 5:30 PM.

I know that every time I ran for my council seat I pledged to represent you. I pledged to be accessible to you and to work for greater transparency for you. I knew full well that when I was elected I had taken on a job that required, at the very minimum,a commitment every Tuesday of the month for council meetings and responsibilities. That’s four days a month. Apparently for some it has become an inconvenience.

My apology to all. It is certainly not of my doing. If I had a magic wand I would go back to alternating Tuesdays between workshops and voting meetings. What’s the old saying? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well, nothing was broken and nothing needed fixing.

It reminds me of the electronic voting fiasco. Council spent what? $60,000 on an electronic voting system that never worked from the day it was installed. They poured money down a rat hole only to go back to the old system of voice vote. I wasn’t around at the time but I sure hope they were able to get the taxpayers’ money back.

If the start time is changed (once again) to 5:30 PM it doesn’t make much of a difference, does it? So, I hope you don’t work in downtown Phoenix or in the east Valley and you ever must attend a 5:30 PM Glendale council voting meeting for you will never make it on time. Oh, but you could take off work early. Ask yourselves when was it decided to make local government less convenient for you? And who decided to make it less convenient for you?

© 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.

At a recent city council meeting the city received a rebate check from Arizona Public Service (APS) in the amount of over $430,000. Here is the link to the Glendale Star story: http://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_b7fdec58-fba7-11e7-9db1-3bd587ba3532.html. This rebate is due to the city’s conversion of its street lights to LED. In addition to the rebate, the city projects an annual savings in its APS electric bill of $494,000 and another $180,000 in annual maintenance. This year the city, between the APS rebate and lower electric bill, has over a million more dollars in its General Fund to spend on other needs.

Glendale City Council receives APS rebate

Here’s a little of the back story. During last year’s council budget workshops, I discovered that this LED conversion project was not scheduled to begin for another three years and to be implemented over two years. I requested that the LED project be moved up to the current year and it should be completed within one fiscal year. After all, it was a no brainer. If the city had a chance to save money why wouldn’t we be doing it immediately? There was push back on council and not every councilmember immediately embraced the idea. However, after further council discussion, my request was approved. I am glad my persistence paid off for the city.

Recently, I requested another initiative that I believe will also generate revenue for the city. Those who have residential rental properties in Glendale are required to be licensed and to pay a monthly residential real estate tax. I heard from a constituent about a friend of his who had 8 residential rental properties in Glendale yet only self-reported and paid tax on one property. I suspect this is more common than is generally known. To this date the city has no mechanism to verify and capture all residential rentals. As a Council Item of Special Interest (CIOSI) I have requested that the city’s Finance Department initiate a pilot program to identify and capture all residential rentals within the city. It has been approved by council and I anticipate that the city will capture an estimated $500,000 annually in unreported and under reported residential rental tax. If it generates the kind of money I anticipate, there’s additional city revenue that can also be used to meet other needs.

During my sixteen years as councilmember I often initiated pilot projects that were eventually adopted throughout the city. As you drive through Glendale you will see blue and white street identification signs as you approach a street. They are low in height and specifically designed to assist motorists. What started as a pilot project in my district, the Yucca district, can now be found citywide.

Former Glendale Communications Director, Paula Illardo, and I requested the very first funding in the amount of $50,000 for Christmas lights to be installed in downtown Murphy Park. That initial request is now known as Glendale Glitters.

I also initiated a pilot project by purchasing tablets and lending them out to Yucca district residents. The surveys and feedback the users provided convinced our Glendale Library system to replicate the system city wide. I don’t believe it is still being used as tablets and smart phones are so prevalent these days and everyone and his brother has one.

I was successful in getting the city to adopt a League of Cities partnership program that enabled the issuance of Glendale insurance cards (at no cost to the city) for residents’ use in saving money on not only their prescriptions but that of their pets as well.

Over my long history as a Glendale city councilmember I have always sought out ways to save the city and our residents money or to initiate a project that benefits all residents. My request to move up the LED light conversion project was not my first money saving initiative for the city and I suspect it will not be my last.

© 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.

I haven’t opined on the Coyotes in a long time. It’s sad that they remain in limbo, still seeking the Holy Grail of a new location…in or out of Arizona. You’d think that Andrew Barroway, owner of the team, would take a reality pill and acknowledge that no one is going to build them a new arena and then subsidize the team to play in it. The fans deserve better. They deserve surety and the team stubbornly refuses to provide it.

I have only attended 2 or 3 games this season but from what I hear from fans this season’s performance was dismal. Out of the 8 teams in the Pacific Division they ranked dead last with 45 games played to date turning in 10 wins, 28 losses. While the brand new Vegas Golden Knights, number one in the division, turned in 29 wins and 10 losses. The Coyotes also rank dead last in the league standings.

Having no other place to go, the Coyotes silently did nothing in December of 2017 triggering an automatic lease renewal at Glendale’s Gila River Arena. Here is the link to Craig Harris’ December 19, 2017 story in the Arizona Republic: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2017/12/19/arizona-coyotes-staying-1-more-year-glendale-gila-river-arena/963379001/ .

Mr. Ahron Cohen, Coyotes’ Chief Operating Officer, is quoted as saying, “We are absolutely planning to play next season at Gila River Arena and are focused on building a winning hockey team, positively contributing to our community, and achieving success in all aspects of our business.”

Let’s take a look at the reality of that statement. Forbes magazine annually determines the worth of professional sports teams and it has valued the Coyotes at $300 million. It is the least valuable franchise in the 31-team NHL. The team lost at least $19 million last season.  Forbes stated the team’s debt ratio was 83 percent, meaning the franchise has very little liquidity or room to borrow money. In this financial atmosphere, it is painfully obvious that the team simply cannot afford to move – anywhere, in or out of the state. To date there has been no legislation offered at the state level to assist the team in some sort of relocation effort and it does not seem to be a viable option.

The Coyotes have the league’s lowest payroll of $54.8 million, according to the National Hockey League Players’ Association. Again, with an 83% debt ratio it’s no wonder that the team’s payroll is in the basement. Clearly with that kind of debt ratio the ability to build a winning team, as Mr. Cohen suggests, is unrealistic.

There is a lot of work to be accomplished by Mr. Barroway and his senior management to turn this team around. To accomplish that goal long term stability is required. Perhaps it’s time for him to create the stability of location, get serious and commit to a long term lease at the Gila River Arena. Once that issue is resolved and the distraction of seeking a bigger and better location (in their minds) is settled, they can focus on three major initiatives: The first and most important is ‘butts in seats’ despite the current quality of team play. It’s time to develop a major, effective marketing campaign to attract new fans. Get those ‘butts in seats’ to generate a greater proportion of revenue; the second is with better revenue comes the ability to pay for seasoned, successful players. Fans are fickle. They pay to see winners not losers. They cannot rely upon fan loyalty in the Valley. Just look at the Suns and Diamondbacks. Respectively their attendance is down and continues downward when they don’t make the playoffs; lastly it’s all about the fan experience these days. At the game I attended last week I witnessed a format that hasn’t changed since the team started playing in the arena, 15 years ago.

There are new strategies available to attract millennials and women. One has just to look at the Cardinals to notice what they have done to make the fan experience worth the price of a ticket. Their model remains successful as their season ticket holder base remains stable. Oh by the way, I haven’t heard the football fans that come from all over the state complaining that the venue is too far away. Yet Coyotes’ team management continues to point the finger at distance as a rationale for lousy attendance. When they were winning and made the playoffs there was no mention of distance. Come on, it’s time to bury the excuses, including this one.

The city and AEG would like to have the Coyotes stay at Gila River Arena. After all, it was built for hockey as its main tenant. The city has also learned that it should not be in the business of managing and that its arrangement with AEG is a winner. It has no intention of terminating the relationship for AEG has done an outstanding job in its first year of management.

It’s time for Barroway to stop playing games…off the ice. Commit to stay at Gila River and get to work on creating a better team performance and building a super fan base. Glendale has publicly offered to help but it will never go back to the old model of subsidizing the team. It’s time for Barroway to make a major effort to turn things around. Will he…or won’t he? That is the question.

© 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.

It seems whenever there is a city holiday I can play catch up and find the time to write. Monday, January 15, 2018 is MLK Day and a national holiday. Fortunately I’ve already received the material for our next council workshop scheduled for Tuesday, January 23rd and have done my ‘homework’. Please remember that now city council only meets two Tuesdays a month and they double up on the meetings that day. Now on those two Tuesdays council meets at 12:30 PM for workshop followed by an Executive Session if needed. Then on the same day it reconvenes at 5 PM for its voting meeting. Please note this is an hour earlier than previously scheduled. It makes it more difficult for the public to attend if they work and don’t get off until 5 PM.

The only workshop public agenda item is staff’s request for direction from city council regarding naming Bethany Home Road between 83rd Avenue and 99th Avenue as well as Loop 101 freeway signage as Cardinals Way. This is a Council Item of Special Interest (CIOSI) raised by Mayor Jerry Weiers.

The facts of the request include renaming 12 highway signs by the Arizona Department of Transportation at a cost of $75,000. Five Glendale city street signs would also be renamed at a cost of $5,000. The total of $80,000 would have to be paid by the city.

The Arizona Tourism and Sports Authority (AZSTA) has offered to contribute but they have not specified how much they would pay.

This is all of the information city council has received on the issue. So pretend you are a city councilmember and have to give direction (we don’t vote at workshops) to move forward or not to move forward and stop it. I’d be interested to see how all of you would weigh in if you were the decision maker. I’ve put a new poll to the left of this column. Please take a moment to cast your decision.

Last week the Arizona Republic published a story that APS is seeking approval from the Arizona Corporation Commission for a rate decrease. Who would have thunk?? Here is the link to the story: https://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/energy/2018/01/09/aps-now-seeking-rate-decrease-thanks-federal-tax-cuts/1018865001/ . APS is seeking a cut of, “… about $4.70 from the average residential customer’s monthly bill thanks to the tax changes that President Donald Trump signed into law last month.” Unfortunately, SRP customers will not see a similar rate reduction due to the tax changes. It is an Agricultural Improvement and Power District, and does not collect federal income tax through its customers. Municipalities that provide water are not for profit and like SRP do not pay federal taxes. The expectation is other for-profit utility and water providers in the state and nationally may also offer rate reductions due to the reduction of the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.

© 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.

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