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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.

My apology for not posting blogs recently. The combination of rejuvenating our kitchen with new tile and paint in addition to an extraordinarily busy council schedule left me little time to think much less do the research needed for many of my blog posts.

However, the kitchen is completed and slowly coming back to some semblance of order. For those of you who have ever tackled a major home project, you will understand the chaos and confusion that overtakes everything.

Last Tuesday, November 7, 2017 the city council had a major agenda item up for discussion – the city’s Transportation Plan 2018-2042 draft. Here is the link:  https://destinyhosted.com/glenddocs/2017/AACC/20171107_103/422_Transportation_Plan_DRAFT_v2%20Upload.pdf . At nearly 400 pages, it is a thorough and ambitious document laying out plans for the city’s transportation needs for the next 25 years. A 25 year transportation plan seems to be quite ambitious and assumptions made now may not be accurate in the future. It would seem a more definitive and realistic approach to plan now and to specifically consider priorities and funding needs for the next 5 to 10 years (out to 2023 or 2028). On page 1-7 of the plan, it is acknowledged that, “future estimates can fluctuate.

Page 1-9 lists overarching goals of the plan:

  • enhance quality of life
  • personal mobility
  • move goods
  • promote economic development
  • interconnect transportation modes
  • minimize auto travel
  • maintain the system
  • manage the system
  • improve safety
  • local transit improvements

Page 2-5 identifies the heaviest population concentrations in Glendale to be generally 43rd Avenue to 83rd Avenue and generally south of Glendale Avenue. From the MAG (Maricopa Association of Government) statistical data seniors, low income and persons without vehicles are located in south Glendale. These statistics make the case for the enhancement of mobility for that area’s residents, especially in terms of bus mobility.  On page 2-12 the plan agrees with this assumption, “Communities of concern are concentrated in the area between 43rd Avenue and 75th Avenue and Camelback Road to Peoria Avenue…focusing modes of transportation to serve these areas can meet the objectives of providing a complete transportation system to all residents.”

Page 3-1 states, “Therefore it is important that the entire network be completed to maximize the value of the overall investment.” While that may be true it is unrealistic to state without adding the verbiage  “incrementally.” On the same page it states, “These factors in tandem with increases in traffic volumes have rendered existing performance standards obsolete.” Then why are these same obsolete standards the basis of this entire plan? What standards should be used and why were they not in this plan?

 Again, on the same page, it states, “Solving street and intersection LOS (Level of Service) deficiencies will be especially challenging if even feasible in the more established areas of Glendale.” On page 2-12 it states this same area comprises “communities of concern.” There appears to be a dichotomy of thought. On the one hand “communities of concern” are identified along with the need to provide a “complete transportation system to all residents” and on the other the case is being made that it may not be “feasible” to improve these very same intersections.

Staff is asking for a major council policy decision (one of several). It hinges on the question of what is the acceptable Level of Service (LOS) for our streets and intersections.  Currently Glendale has an adopted LOS of “C.” The plan states that by 2042 the vast majority of the city’s streets will remain at an LOS of A-C. There are only 11 segments identified in the entire city as deteriorating to LOS D, E-F. Staff contends that retaining a standard LOS of C  is a matter of money. They state the cost of raising these 11 intersections to LOS C will be very costly and not worth the investment. They say that many of the Valley cities have accepted and LOS of D. Interestingly, Peoria continues to retain an LOS of C. One question: Are we in a race to the bottom with other communities? If they jump off the bridge should we do likewise?

Pages 3-50 and 3-51 raise the question of why there are no capacity improvements identified for Glendale Avenue from the Loop 101 east to 43rd Avenue or for Bethany Home Road from 83rd Avenue to 43rd Avenue? Both are directly impacted by Westgate traffic. Are we waiting until we have another Bell Road corridor? On page 3-51 other streets impacted by Westgate traffic are Camelback Road/59th to 99th; 83rd Avenue/Glendale to Northern; and 91st Avenue/Glendale to Orangewood. It would appear that these streets are immediately in need of capacity improvement to satisfy the needs of visitors to Westgate and the area as it continues to grow and to add such elements as IKEA and TopGolf.

Page 3-59 has Glendale Avenue scheduled for FY 2018. Why all the way out to Litchfield Road? Why not just to GRPSTC? Glendale Avenue to the Landfill experiences not just the volume but some of the heaviest equipment. Have we ever considered the use of concrete at that location? It is used back East extensively. Although the initial cost may be slightly higher, it is more durable and over time will require less costly maintenance.

Page 4-9 identifies 539 bus stops throughout the city:

  • 278 have a sign only
  • 30 have a sign and trash container
  • 53 have a bench and trash container
  • 178 have a shelter and trash container

Bus transit (in lieu of the fact that council has declined to pursue light rail at the present time) should be a primary priority for the city. Many of the bus stops are a disgrace. If the city truly wants to encourage more ridership then the majority of the bus stops should be attractive enough to encourage ridership. Shelters are a necessity in the Arizona heat.

Page 4-12. Obviously the ridership counts on Routes 50 and 70 demonstrate the need for more bus transit to serve the low socio-economic communities in the city. If we cannot “feasibly” remediate traffic issues in these areas then it is incumbent upon us to provide greater mass transit.

Page 4-22 discusses Commuter Rail. Glendale has never taken the lead in making this form of mass transit a priority yet over 70% of our residents work outside of Glendale. It’s been studied to death but no action has been taken.

Page 6-4 identifies the use of 4 HAWKs throughout the entire city. These are mechanisms that allow safe pedestrian crossing of major arterial streets.  There is one such device on Glendale Avenue east of 67th Avenue. These have proven themselves and it is time to identify new locations. There is no mention of such a strategy.

Page 6-9. ITS/TSM objectives are very aggressive in terms of goals and a completion date of 2022. Technology may be sexy but a large portion of the funds programmed should be reprogrammed to bus transit and other forms of mass transit. Why is this the only area planned to be completed within 5 years when all of the other transportation needs may not be met until 2042?

Page 7-9 projects an increase of 60 additional aircraft based at the airport from 2015 to 2035 (20 years) and if that is the city’s target it  is abysmal. Frankly it’s an embarrassment. The airport strategies and initiatives are fully funded in this plan. Under those circumstances, the city should be developing the East side of the airport now and then aggressively marketing it immediately. In order to succeed in its development it requires a major and substantial ad campaign after development occurs.

Page 8-16 shows an allocation of $5.08 M over 24 years for transportation education. I do not consider this activity to be a priority and would like to see these funds reduced considerably and reprogrammed.

This draft transportation plan has major implications for every Glendale resident. I urge you to take the time to read it and share your opinions on the draft with all members of the city council at:

  • jweiers@glendaleaz.com
  • ihugh@glendaleaz.com
  • rmalnar@glendaleaz.com
  • jclark@glendaleaz.com
  • ltolmachoff@glendaleaz.com
  • bturner@glendaleaz.com
  • jaldama@glendaleaz.com

There is still time for you to weigh in on this draft plan. City council will have at least one more workshop on this topic.

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

Disclaimer: The comments in 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, October 17, 2017 the Glendale city council met in workshop. The first agenda item of five items was that of light rail. Staff presented by recapping what had been discussed to date and asked for further council direction.

There was a robust discussion by council for well over an hour and a half. I will recap each councilmember’s position in the order of workshop seating. Councilmember Ray Malnar related that the original Glendale proposition ballot had 9 items, one of which was light rail. He believes that voter support for the proposition was based on support for 8 of the 9 ballot items and that voters approved the measure and tolerated light rail on the ballot because of the other items that would bring local transportation improvements. He indicated that he could not support light rail and asked for consensus on that position.

Councilmember Bart Turner is a strong and avid advocate for light rail. He attempted to refute any councilmember comments that offered reasons not to move forward with light rail. He feels that the financial figures presented showing a GO Program deficit and the use of General Fund dollars would not be accurate in the future and that the economic development created by light rail would offset those deficits. When it came time to create consensus he clearly wanted to move forward with light rail.

Vice Mayor Ian Hugh has never made a secret of his position on light rail. He has been opposed consistently.  He asked questions of Valley Metro’s CEO, Scott Smith, about pollution and congestion. The answers provided by Mr. Smith were vague as he could not really speak to the issue of pollution and answered the congestion question by stating that in Mesa light rail has caused vehicular traffic to find alternate routes and therefore he has not seen an increase in vehicular congestion. When consensus was called for, the Vice Mayor joined Councilmember Malnar to request that the light rail issue be discontinued in Glendale.

Mayor Weiers Indicated that at one time he had supported light rail as he believed that local connections in the form of trolleys, etc., would be able to connect with the end of the light rail line. However, having reviewed the financial forecast of dollar needs for light rail, he was reluctant to commit future dollars to light rail. He feels that Glendale is finally in a healthy financial position and does not want to jeopardize that success by committing future dollars that the city may not be in a position to afford.

Councilmember Lauren Tolmachoff was clearly torn and on the fence. At one time she had indicated that her support of light rail would hinge on its ability to cross over Grand Avenue. Clearly, the dollars needed to accomplish that were astronomical and frankly unaffordable for Glendale. She did not want to dismiss light rail completely and asked that a decision by council be made after an upcoming council workshop on transportation in Glendale.  There was no support for delaying a decision on the issue. When the call for consensus on ceasing pursuit of light rail in Glendale I, quite honestly, did not see her indicate her position in support for or in opposition to light rail.

Councilmember Jamie Aldama, shared the same position as Councilmember Turner and was a strong advocate for light rail. He believes that light rail will spur downtown economic development. As the Mayor noted, Councimember Aldama was comfortable with his position on the issue as it did not impact LaMar Avenue, located one block south of Glendale Avenue and at one time was considered as a possible location for the light rail line. When it came time for consensus, Councilmember Aldama joined Councilmember Turner in continued support of light rail.

As last in line, I said that I was not ready to sacrifice Go Programming dollars and General Fund resources to pay for light rail. We have immediate needs that can be satisfied by releasing light rail dollars to other transportation needs. When it came time for consensus I joined Mayor Weiers, Vice Mayor Hugh, and Councilmember Malnar in giving direction that council would no longer pursue light rail in Glendale.

On a 4 to 2 consensus with 1 unclear, city council has finally made a decision. Light rail will not come to Glendale…at least not anytime in the next 10 years. Light rail is dead.

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

Disclaimer: The comments in 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, October 17, 2017 the city council will once again take up the issue of light rail in Glendale. The entire city council received the following email from former Councilmember Yvonne Knaack. I think it is a good starting point for discussion. Here is her email in full as it is a public record having been sent to the entire council:

“Dear Mayor and Councilmembers, Please keep the discussion going on the future of light rail in Glendale. We need more definitive projections of cost before a final decision is made. I would hope that your would consider the advancement of light rail to at least a transition point of say 52nd Ave so that the mile stretch from 43rd Ave to 51st Ave can have the potential of development that is needed to revitalize that area of town. I believe there are developers who are just waiting to see if we will have light rail before they commit to bringing investment dollars to Glendale. I have concerns, like many of you, about the cost and negatives of light rail but know that a lot of these concerns can be mitigated. Light rail is infrastructure and more and more people will be using public transportation in the future. The connectivity of our regional transportation system is critical. Glendale has paid in millions of dollars and we don’t want to lose that money. We can’t use it for anything else so let’s find a way to get light rail done. The residents of Glendale voted for the light rail and have paid the taxes to bring it to Glendale. Please don’t give our future transportation to Phoenix and the East Valley. Sincerely, Yvonne Knaack”

Ms. Knaack states, “We need more definitive projections of cost before a final decision is made.” As part of our council information packet preparatory to our Tuesday discussion, one of the items offered is Preliminary Cost Estimates GO Program Analysis.

Again, some history of the GO Program is required. In 2001 Glendale voters approved Proposition 402 levying a half-cent (.5%) sales tax for the sole and exclusive purpose of improving transportation systems in Glendale. The following year, 2002, the Citizens’ Transportation Oversight Commission (CTOC) was established to ensure that the sales tax collected from Proposition 402 was applied properly. CTOC’s mission is to review and recommend action to city council to make sure that the Long Range Transportation Program is always financially balanced, i.e., it spends no more than is collected in tax. Other transportation projects in the GO Program include, but are not limited to, the Northern Parkway Corridor, improvement to the 59th Avenue corridor, bus pullouts, pavement management, neighborhood traffic mitigation and existing transit (bus service) operations.

Back to the Cost Estimates. Below is the information provided by staff with regard to the use of GO Program funds. The only things sure in life are “death and taxes.” The information below is factual and is based upon the best estimates of staff.

The total of the Capital Cost is the major variable. Something could blow up to make this estimate even higher, especially if the end of the line were to be at 61st Avenue, crossing Grand Avenue. The breakdown of funding sources is not a variable:

  • Federal – 58%
  • Regional – 8% (is fixed at $72.6 million)
  • Glendale – 13%
  • Phoenix – 21%

Based upon the estimated costs Glendale’s share of Capital Costs varies from a low of $32.4 million if light rail ends at 43rd Avenue and Glendale Avenue to a high of $156.6 million if light rail ends at 61st Avenue and Glenn Drive. Glendale’s annual operating and maintenance costs range from $1.6 M (ending at 43rd Avenue) to $5.7 M (ending at 61st Avenue).

Another area to consider is the projected GO Program’s deficit if light rail ends anywhere between 55th and Glenn Drive and 61st and Glenn Drive. The projected deficit to be absorbed by the GO Program for  Glendale’s Capital Costs varies from $0.8 M to $50.8 M. Glendale’s annual O&M deficit, also funded by the GO Program, varies from $0.4 M to $2.8 M (again dependent on where the line ends). The problem is those deficits have to be made up from somewhere and the only source would be Glendale’s General Fund.

The most significant questions become obvious. If light rail’s O&M and Capital Costs cannot be covered by the GO Program then it must take revenue from the General Fund. The General Fund pays for everything within the city from employee pay to funding such departments as Police and Fire or Parks and Recreation (our recreation programs and libraries). Even if bonding were to be used the repayment for those bonds comes from the General Fund. The question becomes are you willing to allocate less available money to various departments and needs within our city in order to cover the Capital Cost of constructing light rail as well as its annual O&M expenses?

Another equally valid question is that if there are no future surplus funds in the Go Program due to light rail funding of Capital Costs and O&M Costs are you willing to have less GO revenue for its other mandates, such as pavement management or the bus system?

There is yet another issue to consider. The Regional funding of $72.6 M is not assured. Since the regional funding sunsets in about 8 years, there is no assurance that voters will renew this funding source when it comes time to vote upon it. Therefore Valley Metro has announced to all participants that they must pay the regional share of $72.6 M up front and the participants will be reimbursed for that amount if and when the regional funding is again approved by voters. There is always the possibility that in paying the Regional funding Glendale may never be reimbursed for $72.6 M if the renewal funding fails at the ballot box. Will Glendale lose the $72.6 in regional funding if it does not participate in light rail, as Ms. Knaack suggests? Most likely, yes. But in order to get that $72.6 in regional funding are you willing to take the chance that Glendale will be reimbursed? Are you willing to use General Fund dollars at the detriment of other city departments and needs just to get that $72.6 million?

Former Councilmember Knaack goes on to say, “I believe there are developers who are just waiting to see if we will have light rail before they commit to bringing investment dollars to Glendale.” Let’s talk about those investment dollars. According to an Excel presentation on current development to-date adjacent to and surrounding existent light rail provided by Valley Metro to me several months ago, anywhere from an estimated 3% to 30% of the investment that occurs along a light rail route is public money (governmental funding). In addition it is quite likely that the incentive funding provided by the city to attract private development would have, once again, to compete with other General Fund priorities. Question: Do you want to divert General Funds to incentivize development along a light rail line?

What kind of investment is typical along a light rail line? Once again, based on information provided by Valley Metro, secondary development tends to be the double digit percentage addition of multi-family (apartments) and the decline of retail (percentage is variable from single digit decline to double digit decline). Question, are you willing to trade downtown retail locations for apartments?

I think these questions are important and I want to give you an opportunity to weigh in so I am putting up a new poll to the left of this column. I hope you will take the time to answer the poll questions.

Lastly, is the issue of technological advancement. New technology is being developed exponentially. I have no crystal ball but what future technological advances will make light rail and bus service obsolete? And how quickly can it happen? As an example, we are already beginning to see prototypes of flying commuter cars. What does the technological future hold in terms of mass transit vehicles, their capacities and their fuel sources? Should we consider this issue when deciding whether to develop light rail right now?

My final comment is this: former Councilmember Knaack obviously supports light rail but it will not affect her business located on Glendale Avenue because the proposed route runs one block to the north on Glenn Drive. My final question is would she still be supportive of light rail if it were proposed for Glendale Avenue and meant disruption of her business for a year…or two…or three? I think not. It is one thing to support an issue that doesn’t directly impact your bottom line but it is distinctly another when it affects your very livelihood.  

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

Disclaimer: The comments in 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, August 15, 2017 the city council will have a full agenda. One of the items is a staff presentation on a light rail update. Here is the link to the staff report: https://destinyhosted.com/agenda_publish.cfm?id=45363&mt=aacc&get_month=8&get_year=2017&dsp=agm&seq=139&rev=0&ag=71&ln=2184&nseq=&nrev=&pseq=201&prev=0#ReturnTo2184

There are several points within the staff report that are worthy of note. In the Background section it states, “In 2001, the voters of Glendale approved a dedicated half-cent sales tax to fund a comprehensive transportation program known the Glendale Onboard! (GO) Transportation Program. Maricopa County voters also approved transportation funding the regional transportation plan in 2004. These ballot initiatives include a project and matching funds for a high-capacity transit corridor from Glendale’s eastern border at 43rd Avenue to downtown Glendale (my bold). Based on these successful elections, the city and regional transportation plans include funding to complete a high-capacity transit corridor in Glendale by 2026 (my bold).”

Sometimes one has to read between the lines a bit. A high-capacity transit corridor does not imply light rail exclusively. Among other options, it could be a beefed-up bus system. In the 2001 transportation ballot measure the exact route was never identified. Rather it identified a study area from Northern Avenue to Bethany Home Road. If a light rail route were to run along Northern Avenue or Bethany Home Road neither route would touch downtown Glendale. Any route does not necessarily have to go through or accommodate downtown Glendale. Lastly, there was no ‘drop-dead’ date for completion of this corridor identified in the 2001 ballot issue. Light rail is not an issue that must be decided immediately.

The Background section goes on to say, “…the ongoing maintenance and operations is a local (city) cost. Glendale’s GO! Program and $105 million programmed for capital costs (construction and design) and $3.8 million programmed for ongoing operation and maintenance in the 25-year balanced program.”

On page 4 of the staff report is a table that estimates Glendale’s share of construction cost for light rail. The least expensive which ends at 43rd Avenue and Glendale ( 1 mile) projects Glendale’s share of construction costs at $30 million and the most expensive ending at 61st Avenue and Glenn Drive (crosses over Grand Avenue and is 3.5 miles) is $123 million. Based upon the stated $105 million available for Glendale’s share of construction costs funds are available for all options with the exception of the last and most expensive option – crossing Grand Avenue.

However, Glendale’s operating costs are considerable. According to the staff report, there is $3.8 million available in GO’s 25-year programming.  The least expensive and shortest distance option would require $1.6 million a year. That $3.8 million would be expended in 2 years. The most expensive option and longest distance would require $5.7 million a year to operate. Obviously the $3.8 million GO programmed funds would not even cover one year.

Where would a shortfall in annual operating costs have to come from? It would have to come from the General Fund…you know the same fund that issues debt for the city’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for such things as parks and libraries. It could require competing against Public Safety (police and fire) or employee raises or any other departments for funding resulting in fewer dollars for other departments. The central question for residents may be, do you want to take precious resources away from other departments and capital projects to annually fund the O&M costs of light rail?

Under the Community Benefit/Public Involvement section it states, “In addition to improved mobility and access, high capacity transit projects can also serve as a catalyst for economic redevelopment along a corridor. The original regional 20-mile light rail “starter segment” cost $1.4 billion to completer, but has generated an estimated $8.2 billion in private and public investment along the light rail corridor.” That’s about an 8 to 1 Return on Investment (ROI). Okay, that sounds great but it should be proven by providing specific, verifiable data. How much was the public (governmental) investment after light rail was completed along with a list of specific redevelopment projects and their investment cost? How much was private redevelopment and what were their projects and investment cost after light rail completion? These ROI figures cannot just be thrown out there without some kind of corroborating data. To date none has ever been provided.

Lastly, on page 3 of the staff report under Cash Flow Requirements, it says, “With the relatively short time frame until Prop 400 funding program expires in 2025, it is not fiscally sound to issue bonds, but will rely on existing fund balances and local funding to cover these upfront costs (design, right-of-way acquisition and construction). Glendale staff has told us that funding these upfront costs will negatively impact the GO program prior to construction.” In addition to the lack of long-term GO funding to support  O&M costs, staff has determined that there is not enough GO funding available to pay the upfront costs of construction. This is reminiscent of Camelback Ranch and AZSTA’s lack of ability to reimburse Glendale for those upfront costs. “Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.” Do we really want to go there again?

I have always wondered why Camelback Road has never been considered the option of choice. Phoenix would be required to build from 19th Avenue to 43rd Avenue, a distance of 3 miles. From 43rd Avenue to 91st Avenue, a distance of 6 miles Phoenix and Glendale would share the costs; and from Camelback Road to Glendale Avenue, a distance of 2 miles Glendale would be required to fund construction exclusively. But think about it. This route would accommodate 2 major destinations: Grand Canyon University and Westgate. That is exactly what light rail is designed to do — move large numbers of people to specific and major destination locations. In addition, it would run through 2 of the poorest demographic areas in the entire region: Maryvale and south Glendale and serve those whose need for mass transit is the greatest. If it really does spur economic redevelopment these two areas could certainly benefit from that kind of economic boost.

If you wish to follow the light-rail discussion on Tuesday, August 15th, at city council workshop which begins at 1:30 PM and is the last item on the agenda, please go to the city website, www.glendaleaz.com and click on the link to Glendale Channel 11 TV. It is broadcast live on the city’s site and also on Cox TV Cable Channel 11.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

PLEASE DONATE TO MY CAMPAIGN BY USING THE PAY PAL BUTTON TO THE LEFT OF THIS COLUMN.

PLEASE CHECK OUT THE CHAVIRA VIDEOS, ESPECIALLY “MONEY, MONEY” TO THE LEFT OF THIS COLUMN.

It has been 18 years and 202 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

The July 8, 2016 edition of the Arizona Republic has an editorial penned by Phil Boas. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/editorial/2016/07/07/sammy-chavira-glendale-travel/86789948/ . In part he says, “Glendale council members have also shied away from tackling the problem head-on by censuring Chavira. Shying away from that action also would be a mistake.” He goes on to say, “It is important, indeed, to refine policies and procedures to ensure ethical, professional practices. And we hope Glendale officials come through soon with clearer standards, including on junkets, freebies and late fees.

“But those efforts don’t preclude the mayor and council from passing judgment on a colleague’s decisions that were clearly inappropriate. And sending a message to constituents that the illegitimate use of their taxes isn’t tolerated. That requires and overdue – and well-deserved – censure.”

I agree. The problem is that a majority of council may not. Obviously Chavira must recuse himself in such deliberation and consequent action. That leaves a council of 6 members. Lately there has grown to be a 3 to 3 split between them with Turner, Tolmachoff and Aldama vs. Weiers, Hugh and Malnar. Take the latest major issue, light rail. The vote was 4-3 to approve and move forward – Turner, Tolmachoff, Aldama (and Chavira) for approval and Weiers, Hugh and Malnar against, citing the need for more information on their unanswered questions.

There are mechanisms in council guidelines that allow fellow councilmembers to sanction one another. They have never been used but it seems appropriate in Chavira’s case. How can a split council decide on censure for Chavira? The public perception, rightly or wrongly, is that Turner, Tolmachoff and Aldama would not support Chavira’s censure. So, they are at an impasse and the public may never see the very message the Arizona Republic calls for – that of “sending a message to constituents that the illegitimate use of their taxes isn’t (and will no longer) be tolerated.”

Add to a split council, the fact that Glendale’s City Attorney, Michael Bailey, had given Chavira a pass by publicly stating that he could find nothing wrong with Sammy’s spending. City councilmembers are his bosses so of course, he’s not going to throw one of them under the bus. What should have occurred and did not, was for Bailey to ask an independent third party, such as a city attorney from another jurisdiction, to review and make a decision.

In governmental terms, $25,000 is not a lot of money. In citizen terms, especially when it’s their taxes, it is. There are people at the poverty level who earn no more than that in an entire year. There are senior citizens who receive no more than that amount each year from Social Security. Chavira makes far more than that annually. Between his Phoenix firefighter position and his councilmember salary it seems he would be in the six-figure range.

That brings up another action that should be required and that is reimbursement to the city. Obviously Sammy can afford to do so but don’t hold your breath. It is unlikely that Glendale taxpayers will see this council censure one of its own or will see Sammy repay the money he lavished on trips.

Sammy’s only censure will come from the voters of the Yucca district at the Primary Election on August 30th for they will make clear their anger.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

PLEASE CHECK OUT THE THREE CHAVIRA VIDEOS TO THE LEFT OF THIS COLUMN AND PLEASE DONATE TO MY CAMPAIGN.

It has been 18 years and 180 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Rarely does Glendale make a good news headline these days but unbelievably, it has happened. On June 13, 2016, Paul Giblin offered a story in the Arizona Republic entitled Glendale business boom: New companies, jobs headed to city. Giblin tells us, “More than a dozen companies have either moved to Glendale or expanded in the city this year…” representing “approximately 1,000 immediate jobs and 3,000 jobs at build out.” Here is the link to his story: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/06/13/glendale-business-boom-new-companies-jobs-headed-city/83852820/?hootPostID=6ada3683edf973f91ab90c9ddc9731c8 .

Who is responsible for the good news? City council? Nah. City Manager Phelps? Nah. The real heroes of this story are Glendale Economic Development Director Brian Friedman and his team. Of the 95,000 person workforce in Glendale, 84,000 travel outside of Glendale to work. Only 11,000 Glendale residents are employed within the city. It should be noted that 59,600 non-Glendale residents travel to work inside Glendale. Congratulations to Brian Freidman and his team. Keep up the good work as Glendale continues its economic resurgence.

One of my readers sent me mayoral candidate Burdick’s latest blast email. In it, I was particularly drawn to this, “Glendale residents deserve well-paying, fulfilling and abundant employment. We have the ability to recruit new, high-paying employers to our region, but unfortunately, many employers and developers look past Glendale because of ongoing budget problems, broken promises and failed relationships.”

There is no doubt that our residents want good, high-paying jobs where they live – here in Glendale. It seems pretty apparent that is exactly what Brian Freidman’ goal is. That is exactly what Freidman is creating in Glendale.

Three days after Giblin’s good news story about job creation and new businesses coming to Glendale, Burdick, in apparent ignorance of the facts, says that new employers are NOT coming to Glendale. I guess Burdick and his team don’t read a newspaper very often. How embarrassing.

I’ve been sent several of Burdick’s email blasts by my readers. What seems to be lacking in all of them are any semblance of fact to back up his claims. Where are they?

At least when I refer to my opponent’s ethical challenges, there are facts gathered from the media or city council minutes to back them. For instance, his travel expenditures were well documented in the Arizona Republic on March 4, 2016. His traffic citation and failure to appear in court were reported by the Glendale Star on April 28, 2016 and his record of absences can be found in city council minutes.

Now, a little of this…the light rail issue, is one of the most divisive in modern Glendale history. A few weeks ago Glendale Councilmember Ray Malnar offered to the public cost estimates to build 7 miles of light rail beginning at the end of the Phoenix light rail and culminating in Glendale on either the east or west side of Grand Avenue. Here are the cost estimates he provided:

  • Glendale Total cost (7 miles) $560,000,000.00
  • Federal Funds 50% $280,000,000.00
  • Glendale Sales Tax (GO Transportation Program) 17.5% $84,000,000.00
  • Phoenix T-2050 Tax 17.5% $112,000,000.00
  • WEST PHOENIX-CENTRAL GLENDALE – Regional Funding 15% $84,000,000.00
  • Assumes 50% federal funds and 15% regional funds
  • Assumes local share is split 4/7 Phoenix (4 miles in Phoenix), 3/7 Glendale (3 miles in Glendale)

Councilmember Malnar went on to report, “The latest estimated maintenance cost is $1.5 Million per mile for a total of $10.5 million per year. Based on the 3/7, 4/7 split between Glendale and Phoenix, the estimated Glendale cost per year for maintenance and operation of the 3-mile section would be $4.3 million per year. These costs are estimated to be reduced by about 1/3 from passenger fares, advertising and other income sources.”   

These are important facts to consider. Cost estimates for Glendale’s portion are $84 million dollars which comes out of Glendale’s GO Transportation sales tax revenues and the annual estimated maintenance cost to Glendale would be in the $4 million dollar range (cost reduced by 1/3 resulting in estimated cost of $3 million dollars per year).

The question of light rail in Glendale at this time and its associated costs demand another public vote expressing ratification or denial of the light rail concept in Glendale. The last vote on the issue was in 2001, 15 years ago, and resident’s priorities may have changed since that vote. Residents need the facts regarding costs and then the right to determine if this is how they want the transportation sales tax to be spent. Are there other priorities for which $84 million dollars of transportation sales tax could be used?

Now, a little of that…the elusive proof of insurance for the Cinco de Mayo Festival has finally been located and produced. Former Councilmember Norma Alvarez received the document as a result of yet another Public Information Request. She shared the result of that request and I am now sharing it with you. Here is a copy of the insurance: BreakthruChurchInsurance 2

Please note that it is under Barrio Breakthru Community Church. It would appear that a claim for the estimated $50,000 of criminal damage to city hall can be made against their policy. It would also be highly appropriate for the city to notify Barrio Breakthru Community Church and/or Productions that it will perform an audit of the $5,000 donated to them by Councilmembers Chavira and Aldama for their Cinco de Mayo event. After all, it is taxpayer money and the public has the right to learn if the $5,000 was spent appropriately.

Lastly…the Scottsdale city council had selected 3 finalists in its search for a new city manager. One of those finalists was Jim Colson, a former Economic Development Director for Glendale. On a 6 to 1 vote, the Scottsdale city council has directed that it will begin a new search with all finalists having been rejected.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

PLEASE CHECK OUT THE LATEST CHAVIRA VIDEOWhat’s Sammy Been Doing, HIGHLIGHTING HIS CONSTITUENT ENGAGEMENT. IT IS TO THE LEFT OF THIS COLUMN.

It has been 18 years and 158 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

This evening, May 24, 2016, city council will vote on the issue of light rail. The meeting begins at 6 PM in Council Chambers at City Hall. Please park in the parking garage at 59th Avenue and Glendale Avenue. Walk east to council chambers. Make your opinion known. As I have stated in previous blogs, light rail may be one of the most divisive issues to ever surface in Glendale. Your voice counts.

On May 15, 2016 I filed a Public Information Request with the Glendale City Clerk’s office asking for the following information:

“Councilmember Sam Chavira and Councilmember Jamie Aldama each made a $2,500 donation on or about April 28, 2016 in support of the 2016 Cinco De Mayo Festival held on April 29, 2016 to May 1, 2016. The event was cosponsored by the City of Glendale and Barrio Breakthru Productions. I request the following public information:

  1. What was the $5,000 donated by Councilmembers Aldama and Chavira used for with regard to this event?
  2. A list of services, equipment, supplies and personnel supplied by the City of Glendale to support, produce, operate and clean up of the event, in-king or otherwise.
  3. The monetary value of all requested items listed in #2.
  4. Any and all reports, summaries, etc., submitted to the City of Glendale by or for Barrio Breakthru Productions that reflects the expenses required to produce the event and any and all revenues earned as a result of the event.”

My request was promptly fulfilled by the city by May 20, 2016. Questions #2 and #3 were thoroughly answered with the following information:

  1. “Off duty Police officers were hired through Pro-Force (a third party provider) not directly through the city. Sanitation roll-off delivery, rental, pickup and charges for tonnage at landfill. Audio and lighting services were provided by a third party not through the city. Transportation review of Traffic Control Plan (TCP) for event from the barricade company. This generated charges for lane use and TCP review fees.”
  2. “Sanitation roll-off charges: Delivery fee of $46.11; Haul fee of $175.00 and Landfill charges of $22.60. Transportation charges: TCP Review fee of $44.76; and Lane use fees of $335.76.”

My answers to questions #1 and #2 were not fulfilled. It seems that Councilmembers Aldama and Chavira’s total donation of $5,000 is in some black hole of non-information. There appears to be no accountability on the part of these councilmembers. Otherwise they could have provided information to fulfill that portion of my Public Information Request. As far as can be determined, neither asked Barrio Breakthru Productions for any information about the use of $5,000 of taxpayer money.  Apparently they just gave Barrio Breakthru Productions your money. Did the money cover costs of producing the festival? If so, what for?

Based on the information the city requested of the event producer its sole interest seems to be in logistics of holding the event. In the material the city provided there is no request for licenses of any kind or proof of insurance. It would seem these would be important for the city to have on file. Yet the city file supplied makes no mention of either item. One would think that these items would be important especially in light of the criminal damage that occurred at city hall during the event.

We still do not know if Barrio Breakthru Productions or the Breakthru Community Church was ultimately considered the event producer and was responsible for producing a certificate of adequate insurance. If it was the church that was the producer of record with the city then there is still the pesky issue of separation of church and state.

This incident demonstrates a lack of competence and clarity by city staff.  There were requirements for insurance in City Ordinance 2975. Why were the Ordinance requirements not followed? If the requirements were followed why was that information not supplied with all of the extraneous information I received about city requirements for the event? What is city policy these days? If elements of Ordinance 2975 are being waived upon whose authority is it being done?

I guess I will file one more Public Information Request asking Councilmembers Aldama and Chavira to obtain information from Barrio Breakthru about expenses covered by their donation of $5,000 of taxpayer money. I will also ask for any and all licenses and proof of insurance on file for this event provided to the city by Barrio Breakthru. Will let you know what response I obtain.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

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