Recently the Glendale Star ran an article about the “great fire truck mess.” Here’s the link: .

In one of my recent blogs, “Choices…so many choices,” we learned the proposal to be ratified by council was to buy a new fire truck for more money ($484K) than was granted ($424K) for the purchase and was pulled from the agenda. The reason for its removal was due to public comment offered by two gentlemen representing Freightliner of Arizona who reported on the RFP process and gave examples of why it was flawed. The City Manager, Brenda Fischer, always on top of every issue, indicated that she wanted to learn more and it would either come back to council as presented or a new RFP would be conducted. The Star reported that Fischer would be issuing a new RFP. How’s that for a demonstration of Fischer’s being on top of the very issues approved by the City Manager to go before council? She ought to be embarrassed.

However, the more interesting part of the story is what happened AFTER the council meeting. Fire Chief Mark Burdick confronted the two men, Freightliner’s Attorney Evans and Freightliner’s General Manager, Tim Noeding.

Burdick told Noeding that he was “shocked” that Noeding went public with his complaints about the RFP process and Burdick thought it was “unfair” because Noeding’s “side of the story” got out publicly first. Noeding shot back with perhaps Burdick needed to look at his people and their level of performance in handling the RFP process.

Good for Mr. Noeding. Too often the Glendale system is to try to waylay those who have a grievance, schmooze with them privately and then send them packing – all the while, they leave scratching their heads, wondering what had happened. It is a time-honored Glendale strategy used to prevent any negative from becoming public.

It raises some rather interesting questions, however. Who is running the Glendale Fire Department? The Fire Chief or the Fire Union? For many years it was John Holland, President of the Glendale chapter of the Fire Union. He was the power broker and if anyone wanted anything done they went to him. Alas, Holland was under investigation after having been caught with his hand in the Union cookie jar. Strangely, but not unexpectedly, nothing ever came of that investigation. It seems to have been buried deep within the bowels of the Union, never to surface again after Holland went quietly into the night. Others have assumed Holland’s mantle and may have just as much power.

In one of my many conversations had with the Fire Chief over the years, when questioned about certain policies and practices, he would shrug and refer to some concession the Union had been granted that allowed the policy or practice.

In some ways Chief Burdick’s hands are tied, especially in his efforts to control the fire department budget. It has become more and more difficult as the Union continues to stave off questions about overtime, the use of 4-man trucks or the use of big, expensive trucks answering medical calls which make up nearly 80% of the department’s Calls for Service. If those are sacred cows then Burdick must get a handle on his departmental budget and make cuts in other areas. It’s time for Burdick to manage more effectively and just like the City Manager, be knowledgeable about his employees’ decisions and actions. He and the City Manager should not be the last to know but rather the very first to know.

In other news, congratulations to Jerry McCoy on his promotion to Executive Director of Communications and Marketing. It is well earned and well deserved. But wait, you say, isn’t that Julie Frisoni’s position? Well, yes it is but apparently not any longer. It’s the signal that Fischer is about to make Frisoni permanent as Assistant City Manager, despite the fact that Frisoni does not meet Human Resources defined qualifications for the position.  But that’s just a minor roadblock. Fischer can certainly order Jim Brown, Executive Director of Human Resources, to change or modify the qualifications for the position. Hmmm…I thought the City was removing all those pesky Executive Director titles. Keep in mind, Frisoni was part of the former City Manager Ed Beasley’s “inner circle.” She knows where all the bodies are buried and may have even helped to bury some. Yet when faced with ethical issues such as former City Attorney Craig Tindall’s alleged email solicitation on a city computer for tax deductible tuition donations for his son she said nary a word. What exactly are her ethical standards? After all, she probably advised Beasley on how to handle the Alma Carmichael debacle when it became public knowledge.

I haven’t even commented on the February 4, 2013 city council budget workshop or regular workshop yet. It will just have to wait for the next edition of the blog. Burdick’s show of outrage was just too good to pass up.

© Joyce Clark, 2014


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