On Tuesday, March 26, the Glendale City Council met in regular session. There were 29 agenda items. Based on previous meetings that I attended as a council member that is a pretty hefty agenda. Lo and behold! This council whipped through it in the record time of one hour! One could assume that it was because of their extreme efficiency but that would be an erroneous assumption. This is a council that questions nothing and comments even less. My first question would be, did any of them do their homework and actually read the material?
For example, Item 20 was an agreement to rebuild two refuse trucks. Not sexy at all. But one replacement truck costs about $500K. For half that price, roughly $250K two trucks are being rebuilt. This is an action never before taken by our Public Works department. You would think some on council would have thanked Mr. Stuart Kent, Executive Director of Public Works, for taking this proactive and innovative approach to city equipment, saving the city easily a half million dollars. Not a peep from this council. Just…nothing. Amazing.
There was approval of an agreement with the current Westgate owners for sidewalks, shade canopies, etc. between Tanger Outlet and the rest of Westgate. No one on council took the time to thank the owners for their efforts and financial participation in this public-private partnership. No one asked about implementation of a “HAWK” system for pedestrians trying to cross 95th Avenue to get to Westgate. There is a “HAWK” in use on Glendale Avenue at about 66th Avenue. It allows the pedestrian to push a button which causes a yellow light to flash followed by a red light to stop all vehicular traffic. It allows the pedestrian to cross a busy street safely by stopping all vehicular traffic in both directions. Wouldn’t this be a wonderful addition to move pedestrian traffic between Tanger and the rest of Westgate? Before I left council I was advocating such a strategy. Sadly, no one took up the cause.
There were four items that you would think would have engendered at least minimal questioning or comment. Two were awards of contracts. One was Item #16 to Haralson, Miller, Pitt, Feldman & McAnally in the amount of $200,000 for an external city audit and the other was Item #21 to Beacon Sports in the amount of $100,000 for issuance of an RFP and handling of negotiations with possible arena managers. There was not one question. There was not one comment. There was no discussion whatsoever. Could ‘a been a day in the park. Not one word to the general public about either contract’s terms, scope, time frame, or justification for cost. Just…nothing.
The other two items were just as astounding. Item #26 was termination of Horatio Skeete as Interim City Manager and demotion back to Assistant City Manager. Not a “thank you.” Not a word of recognition for the good things he had done for the city. Not even a comment from Mayor Weiers saying “that council was moving in a new direction.” Just…nothing. In the next action, Item #27, council appointed Dick Bowers as Interim City Manager. Not a word about his background, expertise or experience. Just…nothing. Item #28 was tabled by staff and signals that council has not come to terms with Mr. Tindall on what he will receive financially upon his termination. That did not slow up this council for one minute as they approved Nick Dipiazza as Interim City Attorney in Item #29. Just…nothing.
Once again Councilmember Alvarez was AWOL. How many times has it been? Also worth noting (and I may have missed it as I watched dumbfounded by this council) was the lack of a vote by council to approve her absence. Did she not want to be on record as a yea or nay vote on the Beacon Sports contract or has she injured herself again? For the third or fourth time? Her lack of representation of the interests of ALL (not just a selected demographic) of the people of her district is being noted by many.
Mayor Weiers “good ole boy” public persona is beginning to wear thin as he fancies himself a “deal maker” behind the scenes. Latest word on the street with regard to Coyotes ownership is that nobody is in charge (except for Beacon Sports as of today for a $100,000 fee). Possible owners are speaking directly to various councilmembers to encourage them to champion their proposal. What a way to set up internal warfare.
Of course, the carpetbaggers, Andrew and Darcy Marwick, residents of Phoenix were in attendance. Some people (not I) refer to them as “Dumb and Dumber.” Mr. Marwick took the occasion of approval of the agreement with the Westgate owners to once again denigrate the actions of the previous council in “propping up” a failed Westgate. I would imagine he could opine on any subject (as he often does) and claim its failure is due to the previous council.
Lastly, when was the last time there was no citizen comment at the end of a council meeting? I would venture to say, probably 4 years. If the past council had voted to approve the Beacon Sports contract, I dare say Ken Jones and half dozen others would have been railing against such a vote. No Jones, no Thruston, no Dempskey- no usual cast of wacky characters- to accuse this council of throwing good money after bad by approving Beacon Sports. This time just…nothing.
The new buzz word in government is “transparency.” We all know what it means; the ability to see through something without any kind of blockage. Transparency has to do with disclosure. It means providing information about an issue, event, project, policy, program etc. and then providing a way for people to find and view that information. This council proved tonight that transparency is not a meaningful part of its agenda.
I prefer to call this council, the “Opaque Council” (The OC). Something is opaque when you cannot see through it. The action is characterized as hard to understand because it is not clear or is obscured by the deliberate misuse of language or inaction. It also has a secondary meaning, which is being dull, stupid or unintelligent. I leave it to you, dear reader, to choose which definition of opaque is more relevant and meaningful to you.