It has been 18 years and 97 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.
The Glendale city council meeting of Tuesday, March 22, 2016 was completed in a little over an hour despite an agenda of 41 items, 36 of which were consent agenda or consent resolutions. The only curious item of note was Item 12, Position reclassifications presented by HR Director Jim Brown. There was only one position reclassification requested and that was for the City Attorney’s Office. The request was to create a new title, Senior Assistant City Prosecutor. The reason given for the request was to “realign to better meet department needs.” Hmmm…it seems a bit strange to bring forward only one position in the organization for reclassification.
The more interesting events of the evening were not formal agenda items. During the public comment portion Bill Dempsky of the Sahuaro district, a regular citizen public speaker, railed about Councilmember Sammy Chavira’s excessive and questionable travel expenses. He cited specific facts about those expenses and commented that Sammy wasted $3,000 of your taxpayer dollars with his constant habit and practice of changing flights.
Sammy has become very nervous about his recent negative press coverage and so, lo and behold, he spoke. At the end of the council meeting during council comments, he pulled his written comments before him and began to read. His comments were carefully worded and it was obvious that Sammy did not write them for he does not speak that well.
He said he always followed the travel policy of the city. He failed to mention that in relation to elected officials whatever policy does exist is non-existent or very weak. We would not expect him to acknowledge that he gamed the system. He can claim he did nothing wrong but the Yucca district voters no longer believe him. One man told me, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. He went on to say appearances are everything and it appears to him that Sammy is using his power and privilege to his advantage, not that of the people.
Chavira had two “fun” trips on his agenda – one to see the Pope in Washington, D.C. on a large screen TV and the other to see his friend and mentor, Ruben Gallego, be installed as a U.S. Congressman. But Sammy had a problem. For you see, he had to make these trips “legitimate.” What to do? Simple, claim some sort of meeting related to city business—with someone, anyone, willing to back up his claim that a city issue was discussed. For all we know the so-called meeting could (and probably was) 5 minutes long but it would have been enough to CYA.
Sammy’s bosses, including the Phoenix Fire Chief, have tacitly acknowledged the impropriety of Sammy’s paying $420 for their seafood and steak dinners by returning their portions of the check (5 Phoenix officials have done so to date) to the City of Glendale. Not only that, but they repaid with personal funds. Has it ever occurred to Sammy that it’s time he repaid the city as well? Probably not.
Sammy went on to say that he supports review of the city’s travel policy and at the April 5, 2016 city council workshop he, personally, would request such a review as an action item for a future city council workshop.
Sammy is definitely scared. He got caught with his hand in the cookie jar and is desperately looking for a way to keep his hand intact. This time it’s not going to work. What Sammy doesn’t realize…yet…is there are a lot of angry voters out there. They were already angry about his lack of accessibility and responsiveness to his constituents; his canceling of scheduled meetings with them; his absences from council meetings; and his lack of communication with the people he was elected to serve. Sammy’s performance as their councilmember has been less than sterling. Now with these new revelations about his use of taxpayer money, they have had enough.
To a majority of Yucca district voters Sammy has exhibited the worst characteristics of an elected politician, with his cronyism, his advocacy of issues in support of his large campaign contributors, his advocacy of more money exclusively for the fire department and his abuse of power. They are disgusted and have had enough. They believe he epitomizes the worst of establishment politicians and they will not vote for him again. They think he represents the cliché of smoked-filled rooms and back deals. They realize that Sammy is not working for them. Rather Sammy is working for Sammy.
All of these reasons…and more…persuaded me to run for the Yucca district council seat: to restore dignity and honor to the position; to research and to question staff thoroughly regarding their policy recommendations; to restore accessibility and communication to the people of the district; and to become an instrument of giving the people of the district their voice back. I ask the people of the Yucca district for their support. I ask for their vote in the August 30, 2016 Primary Election.
© Joyce Clark, 2016
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