In its September 19, 2013 edition the Glendale Star ran an editorial entitled Dysfunctional city needs one spokesperson—the Mayor. Here’s the link: http://www.glendalestar.com/opinion/editorials/ . It states the obvious. In the absence of one strong voice the vacuum is filled with the multiple voices of all 7 councilmembers often delivering opposing messages while competing for attention. What’s going on?
Jerry Weiers, the Mayor, made a fatal mistake at the outset of his term. He aligned himself with Councilmembers Alvarez and Hugh on the issue of the Coyotes deal. Meanwhile Councilmember Sherwood, knowing that most likely he had the support of Councilmembers Knaack and Martinez, began his successful courtship of Councilmember Chavira. They are now best buddies and it led to successful passage of the Coyotes’ management deal. So began the setup of what is turning out to be a consistent 4-3 vote on nearly every issue. Weiers’ initiative to set up “Car Cruizing” in downtown Glendale ended in disaster when the producer moved the event to Westgate. His call for prayer before the start of council meetings, opposed by a majority of residents, did not help him either. Weiers must do some damage control or he can forget about a second term. One suggestion he might consider is to stop listening to political advisers who do not live in Glendale or truly understand Glendale dynamics. Weiers needs to listen to his residents instead. Perhaps a series of Town Hall meetings would fill that bill.
As stated in an August 13, 2013 blog entitled Manny…say it ain’t so the election cycle of 2014 will be interesting. Councilmember Martinez is not running for reelection and has endorsed Robert Petrone. Big mistake on Martinez’ part as Petrone is not perceived as a good financial steward with the baggage of financial troubles from 2003 to the present defining him. Others will emerge to run for the Cholla district seat. Alvarez has announced that she will not run again. Good thing, for she’s been a one woman disaster since she took office. She, of course, will endorse someone. Whoever it turns out to be should cause us all to run in the other direction. An Alvarez clone is the last thing Glendale needs.
The really interesting decision to be made is by Vice Mayor Knaack. She stands for reelection in 2014. Does she run for her seat and then vacate it in 2016 to make a run for Mayor? Bets are that is exactly what she will do. Her effort to display leadership has led her to adopt a position of trying to please everyone and in reality, pleasing no one. Her ambition to become mayor could lead to her exit from the Glendale political scene.
The vacuum of leadership appears to have been filled, for now, by Councilmember Sherwood. He took the lead on the single hottest issue in Glendale, the Coyotes issue, right out from under Mayor Weiers. Sherwood is also ambitious and will seek the mayorship…in 2016 when his first term is up? Chavira, a Phoenix firefighter, has the Glendale fire union staunchly backing him and as Sherwood’s newest best friend could get the fire union to support Sherwood in 2016. The fire union will be in the cat bird’s seat choosing whoever promises them the best deal…Weiers, Knaack or Sherwood? In the past, the union has supported all three.
Of course this council is dysfunctional. They are no different than any other political body. They serve as a classic example of putting personal political ambition ahead of taking unpopular actions that best serve the city. They are jostling and shoving to fill the role of leader. It’s an all out contest to restore every unpopular cut to please residents short term rather than ensuring that the city’s long term finances are made healthy by keeping the city lean. Glendale is by no means out of the financial woods. Camelback Ranch and arena debts were back loaded causing the annual debt payments to become substantially larger this year and on into the future. Then there is still the open question of just how much of the $9M unbudgeted due to the arena management will be covered by the enhanced revenue scheme.
Just one example of jockeying for position was the discussion at the August 17, 2013 council meeting surrounding the city’s Civic Center. Ever since it opened the city has subsidized its operations and maintenance. The rationale used by staff is that council directed that it be a community resource. Most of the community has never set foot in the Civic Center and cannot afford to rent spaces within it. In 2012 the past council directed that it was time for the Civic Center to recover 100% of its costs. It is a business after all. Since that direction, staff has been able to recover about 70% and according to its 5 year plan is set to recover 100% in the future. Several councilmembers, with wringing of hands, are ready to restore its city subsidy. Thank goodness, City Manager Brenda Fischer was able to stave off the notion by declaring it would be a topic of discussion for the spring council budget workshops. She also reminded council that when you add to one department’s budget, you must take away from another department. It’s again time for this council to prioritize city services, from most important to least important.
On a lesser note the Attorney General’s office has now rejected all complaints made related to any councilmembers’ violation of the state’s Open Meeting Laws. It was expected. The only issue remaining is the AG’s investigation into additional charges in relation to the external audit. Do not expect anything to come of that either.
©Joyce Clark, 2013
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