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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

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

I haven’t done one of these types of blogs in quite awhile but there is so much occurring politically it’s a good time to throw one out there.

Vice Mayor Lauren Tolmachoff filed her nomination paper and petition signatures with the City Clerk’s office on Thursday, May 10, 2018. She is now an official candidate for the position of councilmember representing the Cholla district. It appears as of this date she will have no opposition thereby assuring her of another term.

Also on Thursday Ray Strahl of the Barrel district obtained a candidate packet and filed a statement of organization. Should he turn in enough petition signatures by May 30th he will become an official candidate for the position of councilmember representing the Barrel district. It appears likely that the current councilmember, Bart Turner, will have an opponent in the August primary election.

On April 30, 2018 Councilmember Jamie Aldama of the Ocotillo district filed his nomination paper and petition signatures with the City Clerk’s office. His likely opponent, Emmanuel Allen, has until the end of May to turn in his paperwork to become an official candidate.

Aldama’s campaign manager is Chuck Foy. It’s appears that Jamie likes to keep his distance from nasty stuff and that is apparently part of Mr. Foy’s usefulness. On March 13, 2018 Mr. Foy filed a first Freedom of Information Request seeking any and all information with regard to the city and Emmanuel Allen, a possible opponent of Aldama’s for the Ocotillo city council seat. I guess the city’s first response was either disappointing or Foy and Aldama haven’t found any dirt to throw at Allen yet. Foy made another request for more information on Thursday, May 10th. They seem to be trying to find something nefarious about Allen’s ROOTS organization, the successful bidder for providing after-school programming at two city locations.  Allen’s organization bested the current operator, Breakthu Barrio, who appears to have had a long and fruitful relationship with Aldama.

Yet another fascinating Freedom of Information request was filed with the City Clerk on Thursday, May 10th by Bryan Willingham. Mr. Willingham is a Glendale resident but also just happens to be a Phoenix Fire Captain and Executive VP of the United Phoenix Firefighters Association, Local 493. What was the nature of his request? He requested information on the recall process for all councilmembers as well the procedures and requirements for filing a citizen’s initiative proposition. His action seems to be for the purpose of firing a warning shot at the mayor and all councilmembers.

I will flesh out the reasoning behind Mr. Willingham’s query on behalf of the fire union in an upcoming blog but suffice it to point out initially that Glendale fire fighters are among the best paid fire fighters in the Valley. Did you know they work 502 hours less per year than nearly every fire fighter in the Valley? Yet it seems the Glendale fire union is very unhappy over this year’s negotiations with the city on pay and benefits. How and why is something every citizen in Glendale deserves to know and will in the near future.

© 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.

Councilmember Jamie Aldama, currently running for reelection as the Ocotillo district representative in Glendale seems to have problems with ‘process’.  Just a few weeks ago, if you will recall, he opposed the city’s decision to place SROs in all nine of Glendale’s high schools. His stated reason was his disagreement with the process. In reality, many suspect he was receiving his marching orders from the fire union (whom it is assumed will support him in his bid for reelection) which vehemently opposed the action because it removed one city paid fire union representative. Politically it was ill advised and a mailer was sent by American Free Enterprise Club, a Political Action Committee (PAC), to all Ocotillo voters. See here:

Two weeks ago, Aldama, at the regular voting meeting of the city council once again opposed an action due to ‘process’. This time it was the city’s award of a Request for Proposal (RFP) to R.O.O.T.S. to run after-school programs at two city locations, O’Neil Recreation Center and the Glendale Youth Center. Once again, Aldama voiced his opposition due to ‘process’ just as with his previous action.  As before it is important to understand the situational sub context and his assumed political motivation to do so.

R.O.O.T.S. is run by Emmanuel and Belinda Allen. So what? may be your answer. Here’s the dilemma for Aldama. Emmanuel Allen is running against Aldama for the Ocotillo city council position. That, in and of itself, provides Aldama with the presumed motivation to use a velvet hammer to neuter his political opponent.  In yet another twist Breakthru Barrio would be losing their contract for running the Glendale Youth Center programming. This is the same Breakthru group responsible for damage to Glendale City Hall during one of their events and a group to which Aldama, in the past, has contributed tax payer dollars to help sponsor their events. Make no mistake; Aldama appeared to have been subtly working to support Breakthru’s retention of the Glendale Youth Center after school programming contract.

The problem with his opposition to ‘process’ this time was his apparently deliberate misconstruing of the R.O.O.T.S. application and the city’s process for award of the RFP. When Belinda Allen spoke before city council that night she clarified Aldama’s misrepresentations.

 It should be noted that this RFP process was far more rigorous than any previously used. The publicly available background material regarding the issuance of the RFP stated, “In June 2017, the City engaged Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Performance Lab (GPL) for the study of results driven contracting. GPL, in partnership with What Works Cities, focused on improving the RFP process for the applicant, outcomes of after-school programming Glendale. Responses from the RFI indicated the model was sustainable.”

“In December 2017, the City advertised a Request for Proposals (RFP #18-32) to engage one or more community partners to provide after-school services at four city owned recreation/community centers. The objectives of the RFP were to engage a partner/partners who could: 1) Increase participant access and sustain free after-school programming; 2) Improve academic achievement and decrease at risk behaviors; 3) Sustain programming through stakeholder commitment (families, neighborhood schools, funders, and community-based organization); and 4) Advance the City’s mission of improving lives by providing services that align with our values.”

“In January 2018, department staff assembled and evaluation team of professionals that included representation from Arizona State University, the City of Phoenix, and the City of Glendale’s Police, Community Services, and the Public Facilities, Recreation and Special Events departments to objectively evaluate each proposal to determine which provider(s) would best fit the need of the community.”

The process worked but Aldama apparently could not accept the results because it would result in the loss of the contract belonging to yet another political ally. What should concern Ocotillo voters is Aldama’s apparent motivations for rejecting two decisions that are in the best interest of Glendale and its residents seem to be purely political.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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

On Tuesday, March 28, 2018 the Glendale City Council in a vote of 4 to 3 approved the expansion of building size and hours for Arizona Organix, a medical marijuana dispensary located in Glendale. Mayor Weiers and Councilmembers Hugh, Turner and Aldama voted in favor. Vice Mayor Tolmachoff and Councilmember Malnar and I voted against.

Another history lesson on the background of legalized medical marijuana in Arizona is in order. On November 2, 2010 voters in Arizona legalized the use of medical marijuana. The state created Community Health Analysis Areas (CHAAs) allowing one dispensary in each CHAA. There are over 100 CHAAs in the state. Glendale has at least (and probably more) 8 CHAAs within its boundaries.  Here is the current CHAA map:

Glendale passed a Zoning Ordinance, effective March 25, 2011 to deal with dispensaries within its city limits:

  • Allowed in zoning classifications of General Office (G-O); General Commercial (C-2); and Heavy Commercial (C-3)
  • Dispensaries must be one mile apart
  • Dispensaries must be 1,320 feet away from elementary, middle and high schools
  • Dispensaries must be 500 feet away from residential properties
  • Maximum building size of 2,000 SF
  • Allowable hours of operation are 8 AM to 8 PM (12 hours)

Arizona Organix filed for a zoning text amendment to Glendale’s current zoning requirements asking for a 6,000 SF allowable maximum building size and for an expansion of operating hours from 8 AM to 10 PM (total hours open – 14).

I voted against their request for 2 reasons. One is that the action is precedent setting and the newly approved standards will apply to all dispensaries in Glendale. While Glendale currently has 3 dispensaries, more are on the way and they will be able to operate under the newly approved text amendment requirements as to building size and hours of operation. This time a majority of city council approved an increase in building size and hours but what’s next now that the door has been opened to change Glendale’s specific regulations?

However, for me there was an even more compelling reason to vote against their request. As an elected official I took an oath of office. In that oath I swore I would “support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the state of Arizona…”   Note which is cited first — the Constitution of the United States and which is cited in the secondary position – the Constitution of Arizona.    

Interestingly, Mayor Weiers and Councilmember Turner dismissed my argument. I think they might have some ‘learnin’ to do. Article VI of the United States Constitution contains the “supremacy clause.” The supremacy clause contains what is known as the doctrine of pre-emption. This doctrine states that any federal law, even if it is only a regulation from a federal agency, supersedes any conflicting state law, even if that law is part of the state’s constitution. In other words the federal government wins every time when there is conflicting legislation between the feds and the states.

The federal government has laws prohibiting the use of marijuana for any use. At least 29 states have legalized marijuana, medically or recreationally. But that does not make what they are doing legal. In the eyes of the federal government it is still a crime. To date the federal government has been reluctant to take on the states over this issue but its inaction should not be confused with tacit approval for marijuana use. One should not assume that federal inaction will continue indefinitely.

Here’s a different version of the same state action to refuse to recognize the doctrine of pre-emption. California recently passed legislation making it a sanctuary state in order to protect illegal aliens. In this case, the federal government has filed suit against the state on the basis of pre-emption. Interestingly, Orange County, California has joined the federal suit. I suspect the Supreme Court will recognize and uphold this doctrine.

 California’s action is no different than the action of the states that have passed legislation to allow the use of marijuana for they, as well, have chosen to ignore the doctrine of pre-emption. The only difference at this point in time is that the federal government has not filed suit against them. Should the federal government win its action against California I suspect in the future it will file suit on the same grounds against those states that have legalized marijuana.

I have no public opinion for or against the use of marijuana.  If I had approved the Arizona Organix zoning text amendment I would have been enhancing and abetting the state’s refusal to recognize the constitutional doctrine of pre-emption. I am a constitutionalist and I do believe that the federal constitution and the laws derived wherefrom are supreme, including the areas of tobacco, firearms and drugs. If states legislate opposing federal law what else in the Constitution will they choose to ignore? Then what do we become? A collection of states with no common authority?

In my small way, I chose to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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

On Friday, March 23, 2018 the City of Glendale called a press conference to announce that it would insure that there would be School Resource Officers at every high school in Glendale. This action was in response to the Parkland tragedy and in the wake of a Maryland SRO’s actions that stopped another school shooting after two students had been wounded. One subsequently died.

It was an action the City Manager and the City Council discussed for several weeks. All councilmembers, including Councilmember Aldama, had many opportunities to discuss the idea, ask questions, offer suggestions and voice their approval or disapproval of the idea. Councilmember Aldama asked one or two questions during the entire process and never voiced his lack of support to us, his peers, during these sessions.

At the City’s Friday’s press conference, the Glendale Police Chief made remarks as did the City Manager and the Mayor. Attending in support of the decision to place more SROs in high schools was State Superintendent of Education Diane Douglas as well as Superintendents of the school districts located in Glendale. The entire Glendale City Council was there except for one…Councilmember Aldama. He was AWOL.

Now we know why. Councilmember Aldama has said “No” to the City initiative to place SROs in every Glendale high school. I have placed his release to the media sent out today below.  The photo is small so I have also placed the link as a pdf file, more easily read:  Aldama letter Mar 26 2018

His language within his press release exhibits his bias, when he calls our unified council action “an impactful edict (bold mine)” He implies that this is a decree decided by one person in authority. Not so.  This was a unanimous and carefully considered council decision with one silent voice…Aldama… who never expressed his disapproval to us during our deliberations.

Note this sentence because it is important. He says, “Other critical stakeholders, including Police and Fire Associations (read the unions) were TOLD of the adverse impact on their memberships, but not consulted with.”  This is the real message. All the rest of his statement is a smoke screen. It is important to note that Aldama is up for reelection this year and he desperately needs the support in terms of money and manpower the unions provide to candidates. They are the ‘big dogs’ in Glendale. In plain English Aldama seems to have taken this stance in order to curry the favor and support of these two unions. They will reward him handsomely by pouring monetary donations into his campaign and walking neighborhoods for him. How politically transparent and crass can a person get?

 He goes on to say, “Clearly this was an insensitive headline-grabbing political response to a larger problem than just having an officer in each high school…” I would contend that this city council exhibited extreme sensitivity to an immediate national issue and took appropriate action within our authority. The issues of mental illness and gun regulation are state and national issues and not ones dealt with on a local, municipal level.

It should also be noted that typically government moves at a snail’s pace. Sometimes it is years before an idea becomes reality. This initiative was acted upon with weeks and it required the coordination of and approval of all 4 Superintendents in whose schools the SROs would be placed.

Aldama questions why the city is not placing SROs in elementary schools and charter schools. I believe the current count of schools within the city is somewhere around 80. It is simply not financially feasible to do so and Aldama knows it.

The City does have an Officer Liaison program that has specified officers visiting as many middle and elementary schools as possible on a weekly basis. Since the majority of school shootings occur on high school campuses, the council felt that it was do-able and affordable. How could we not at least make sure all of our high schools were safer?

He then goes on to say, “I am not clear on what these officer’s duties will be.” Glendale has had SROs for years, probably close to 20 years. If he doesn’t know what their duties are then he hasn’t been doing his job for all he had to do was ask at any time.

He then chides us for our “lack of transparency” and for our lack of “open public dialogue and communication.” This is double-speak that in this instance simply does not fit the circumstance. This action is not a new tax on our citizens. It is a reallocation of existent city funds.  It is a situation that is better served by immediate action.  The call for dialogue is a tactic often used to slow down or kill a decision.

Councilmember Aldama, if you had shared your opinion with council instead of staying mute, you would have earned a modicum of respect.  If your decision was perceived as having been done for some solid reasons, you might have earned more respect. Instead, despite all of your hyperbole, the perception of those familiar with this decision making process, your action appears to be no more than a very transparent attempt to win favor with Glendale’s unions. This wasn’t the best time to, as Nancy Reagan used to say, “Just say no.”

© 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 have received information from the city that Breakthu Ministries does pay rent for the use of the Glendale Youth Center for its Sunday services. According to the city Breakthru Ministries pays the city’s standard room rental for an hour of time each Sunday which is $72.00 per hour.

I also was informed, according to city records, for the Breakthru Ministries event on Sunday, February 25, 2018 held at the Glendale Youth Center the organization paid the city’s standard room rental for just one hour of time at the rate of $72.00 per hour. This one puzzles me. On the poster it clearly states that the event starts at 11 AM and has no end time posted. The flyer offers a free concert, free food & drinks and a low rider display. Since Breakthru only paid for one hour, it must have been the fastest event ever presented. They had to set up, break down, serve all the refreshments, offer a concert and a low rider display…all in the one hour rental for which they paid. I call that amazing.

© 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.

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.

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.

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