The Glendale City Council meeting of January 14, 2014 was a sleeper despite there being noteworthy items meriting at least some discussion by the councilmembers. At the start of the meeting once again we agonizingly had to listen to the likes of Andrew and Darcy Marwick and Bill Dempsky as they regurgitated their litany of sins committed by the city. The Marwicks love speaking at Glendale Council meetings probably because it’s a lot easier than trying to speak before their own city council in Phoenix. They seem to feed off of the recognition and adulation they receive from their small circle of like-minded folk. Bill Dempsky merely appears to be embittered about everything. Later in the meeting Vice Mayor Knaack would suggest that it is time to move citizen speakers back to the end of the line. She opined that their “shtick” is to continually bring up the past grievances.
There were 19 items on the entire agenda and half of them were on the Consent Agenda. Councilmember Alvarez pulled item 7, Position Reclassifications, from the Consent Agenda but when it came time to speak to the issue, there was no sound and fury. She offered a few tepid and irrelevant comments and then, true to form, voted “no” on the issue.
Council continued through the items polishing off 3 Bids and Contracts just as if they were Sherman marching through Georgia. The same fate befell 5 Ordinances with the exception of one. When it came to item 17, granting community development fee waivers/rebates, Councilmember Hugh objected. He felt that it is an inappropriate strategy at a time when Glendale in under financial stress and he objected to yet another move that reduces council authority over city finances. Both Councilmembers Hugh and Alvarez voted “no.”
Not so surprisingly there was no council comment on the last item, allowing the city to rent parking spaces from Westgate to satisfy the parking requirements for the Super Bowl. Even more surprising was Alvarez’ silence on the issue. She did not rant or rave about spending city money for a hated sports event. Unless I heard incorrectly, she even voted in the affirmative for this item.
This Tuesday, January 21, 2014 for those with strong constitutions, there will be two city council workshops. The first, at 9 AM, will be a discussion of General Fund Budget Balancing by the Executive Director of Financial Services, Tom Duensing. Council will be asked to provide direction. The bottom line is that he will reiterate the fact that the city faces average annual deficits of $14 million and when the temporary sales tax expires in 2017 that number bumps up to $30 million a year. He will offer 3 options that can be chosen separately or combined: debt restructuring (nothing new here, we did that just before I left); revenue enhancements (new taxes? Will council make the temporary sales tax permanent and raise the property tax?); and expense reductions (nothing new here either, we cumulatively cut expenses by 25% or more).
It will be an interesting discussion absent Mayor Weiers who is on a trip to Canada with IceArizona’s Anthony LeBlanc. Let’s see if LeBlanc and crew return the favor when Weiers stands for reelection in 2016. Expect to see campaign contributions for Weiers from Mr. LeBlanc and his friends.
If your eyes are not glassy and your mind hasn’t turned to mush after the morning session you can view the second workshop of the day at 1:30 PM. If you have Cox cable and live in Glendale it is on Channel 11. If you are Cox-less, you can go to www.glendaleaz.com and watch it live. The topics of the afternoon’s discussion are the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, an annexation policy update, selection of Vice Mayor and discussion of moving citizen comments to the end of the meeting. I guess the love affair with this pilot program is over.
It is disappointing that there is very little questioning or meaningful discussion by some members of this council. Some only offer comments by way of thanking staff for, essentially, doing their jobs. When it is offered so often it can become meaningless. It should be reserved for outstanding performance, above the requisite level of competence. Diversity of councilmembers is most welcome in the form of age, gender, ethnicity, etc. It is less welcome in terms of intelligence and basic understanding of the issues and there are some on council lacking those essential attributes…sigh. Nevertheless, they have offered their service and there is always another election season around the corner.
If you would like to weigh in to the left of this column is my latest informal poll. You can choose which of the councilmembers should become this year’s Vice Mayor. If you would like to be notified of my next blog posting you can subscribe in the space provided to the upper right of this column.
© Joyce Clark, 2014
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