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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Earlier today, March 27, 2015 I made a Public Records Request for information relating to an allegation that Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni may have violated the state’s Conflict of Interest law. Before the close of business today I received the information I had requested. I want to publicly thank Darcie McCracken, Deputy City Clerk, for the excellent and immediate service I received.

The information I received begins with a letter dated February 11, 2014 sent by Frisoni to Michael Bailey, City Attorney and copied to Jim Brown, Director of Human Resources and to then City Manager Brenda Fischer. In her letter she stated that Councilmember Alvarez had been harassing her and creating a hostile work environment for a month. She stated, “This merchant (from Glendale) told our staff today that CM Alvarez told him that I was going to be fired because of my unethical dealings in relation to purchases from a company that my husband works for.” She went on to say, “My understanding is that she (Alvarez) is violating the council code of ethics, as well as the council code of conduct.” She asked for an immediate investigation to remedy the situation and to be advised of the next steps.

Two days later, February 13, 2014 Brenda Fischer sent an email to Frisoni and copied Jim Brown and Michael Bailey. Fischer indicated that after receiving a councilmember complaint she directed Bailey to “research this matter” and based upon Bailey’s review she considered the matter closed. She attached a memo from Bailey with his conclusions. Bailey’s February 13, 2014 memo said, in part, “From his (Shumway) job title, he does not appear to be involved with public sector sales. Based on this cursory review, I did not find any information to indicate that Mr. Shumway was involved with or benefitted from Glendale’s contracts with Insight Public Sector.” He went on to say, “We were not provided nor discovered any evidence suggesting a conflict of interest. Please note that this review was cursory in nature; a more formal review and opinion would require information that isn’t publicly available.”

Fischer’s and Bailey’s conclusions are troubling because of the perceived lack of due diligence by Bailey in investigating the allegation. He said, “On-line information indicates that Mr. Shumway is vice president, information systems-application development at Insight.” He stated, “Based on this cursory review, I did not find any information to indicate that Mr. Shumway was involved with or benefitted from Glendale’s contracts with Insight Public Sector.” As you can see, Bailey appeared to have done on-line research and used that as the basis of his legal opinion. There also seems to be a lot of CYA on Mr. Bailey’s part with words such as “my understanding is” and it “appears.” As any good “jail house attorney” knows, those are wiggle room words. However, a February 20, 2014 letter by Frisoni to Jim Brown and copied to Fischer and Bailey indicated that she was satisfied and stated, “I am satisfied with the current action that has been taken…”

Hold on…not quite so fast…On March 3, 2015, a year later, Councilmember Bart Turner sent an email to Mayor Jerry Weiers, Acting City Manager Dick Bowers, City Attorney Michael Bailey, Vice Mayor Ian Hugh and Finance Director Tom Duensing. Prior to voting on the issue of a payment increase in the Insight contract he asked for an explanation of, “it appears that the increase in the contract is significantly higher than the base ($138,000) without any explanation for what we receive for the additional expenditure.” He made clear that he was not accusing Frisoni of any conflict of interest. He then stated, “In reviewing the conflict of interest disclosure file at the City Clerk’s office I notice there is no non-conflict statement on file from Ms. Frisoni as there are for several other city employees who may have a perceived conflict of interest due to family or personal ties to city business.” There is the answer we were seeking. Ms. Frisoni did not file a Conflict of Interest Disclosure about her husband’s company bid on and securitization of a multi-million dollar contract from the city.

Three days later, on March 6, 2015, Frisoni asked for specific statements attesting to her non conflict of interest. Director of Finance, Tom Duensing specifically asked Chuck Murphy, Chief Information Officer if Frisoni improperly influenced the Insight Public Sector bid. Murphy attested to the fact that it did not occur. Duensing did not offer any assurance. Frisoni then sent their emails to the City Clerk’s office.

Apparently Bailey requested a statement from Frisoni. In response on March 11, 2015, she sent an email to Bailey. Her opening stated, “Pursuant to your request, I am providing information regarding my association with Insight…” It appeared that this email was requested by Bailey to tie up loose ends in an effort to counter and to satisfy Councilmember Turner’s observation that Frisoni never signed a Disclosure. As an addendum within Arizona Revised Statues, Chapter 8, Conflict of Interest there is a specific Disclosure form provided. To this day she has not signed one. She should have erred on the side of caution, given her position within the city’s senior management, of signing such a form. It’s a good thing that she didn’t sign one now and backdate it. We all remember a previous backdating by 4 councilmembers, Eggleston, Martinez, Frate and Goulet that resulted in indictments for them and City Clerk Pam Hanna…all of which were dismissed on a technicality.

Frisoni said over and over in her correspondence that she did not influence or interfere with the City’s bid process and that appears to be true. But it doesn’t answer the question of whether or not she gave advice on that specific bid process to her husband to be passed on to Insight’s bid team. That we will never know.

Frisoni, through her actions, probably earns a zero for ethics. Even though it seems apparent that neither she nor her husband immediately benefitted financially from a successful bid, that’s not the point. It’s a matter of doing the right thing even if no one notices or acknowledges it. In a situation offering even the slightest perception of conflict it would have been prudent of her to disclose that her husband works for a company involved in a very lucrative bid with the city. It would not have hurt anything and would have enhanced her ethical standing. Many people are of the opinion that’s just not her style.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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The September 14, 2013 edition of the Glendale Republic reports that former Assistant City Manager Horatio Skeete and former Assistant Budget Director Don Bolton are appealing their terminations to the City’s Personnel Board (an advisory board of appointed citizens). Good for them. If there is any justice in this world they shouldn’t be left as the only fall guys (along with former Director of Finance Schurhammer and former Budget Director Goke). At the very least the City will have to back up and to prove its charges to the Personnel Board. There remains faint hope that the Attorney General’s office will bring charges against some of those who left before everything hit the fan. Based upon its track record in dismissing all recent Open Meeting Law violation complaints don’t hold your breath.

In City Manager Brenda Fischer’s termination letter to Skeete she says, “This action is based on your violation of city of Glendale policies and procedures. Specifically, the results of an external audit indicate that you were dishonest and misleading to the Glendale City Council on numerous occasions.” Whoo Hoo! If this is her reason for dismissal then there’s a long list of upper management personnel who fit the City Manager’s Bill of Particulars. As just one example, go all the way back to the “Indictment Period.” That was when the City Clerk told Councilmembers that they could backdate their signatures on their annual financial disclosure statements. If that wasn’t dishonest and misleading then there is no such thing. Councilmembers Eggleston, Goulette, Frate (each charged with 2 felonies; Goulette also received perjury charge) and Martinez (1 felony charge) apparently thought there was nothing wrong in doing so and followed her advice.  In 2004 they were indicted by the Maricopa County Grand Jury along with the City Clerk Pam Hanna (9 felony charges) and were charged with violating financial disclosure laws, tampering with and destroying public records, perjury and presenting false instruments for filing.  The charges were eventually dismissed on a technicality. They should be grateful not just for those “technicalities” but for the sharp attorneys who use them as a means of thwarting justice.

 For a period of nearly 10 years, under City Manager Beasley, misleading and dishonesty appeared to have been practiced as fine arts. It became ingrained in the organization’s culture witnessed by directives limiting what a staffer could and could not say to a councilmember. It reached its peak not just with the 2009 dollar transfers from funds but with the 2012 internecine warfare between former City Attorney Tindall and former Assistant City Manager Skeete vying for Council’s appointment as Interim City Manager. Tindall’s faction appeared to have been particularly adept. Isn’t it ironic that the very people who supported Skeete now find their heads chopped off during Acting Assistant Manager Julie Frisoni’s watch? Frisoni was clearly a supporter of Tindall and I can remember attending an event at the city’s convention center when Frisoni and Fire Chief Burdick lobbied me to support Tindall as the Interim City Manager.

It is also mystifying that City Manager Fischer has announced that the city is dropping an investigation into policy violations outside the scope of the external audit. On August 2nd she announced such an investigation. A month later…poof! It’s gone. Such an investigation might have led to other policy violations by active personnel. It might have led to wholesale dismissals which she might not have been able to afford as a new city manager. If that is what is needed, so be it. When there is an infection it must be removed entirely or it just resurfaces somewhere else. Maybe there’s an unwritten code in the fraternity of city managers that says do no harm to past or present brethren. Who knows?

While all this turmoil occurs there is an entire cadre of Glendale personnel quietly doing their jobs to provide the best service possible to Glendale’s residents. They are the people who keep our water running, our streets safe and take care of our garbage and loose trash. They don’t earn the exorbitant salaries that make the newspapers. They are a quiet army that keeps a city running. They should not be smeared with this executive mismanagement paint brush. Many of them were shocked to learn what had occurred. They are to be recognized and thanked for their fierce commitment to Glendale and its residents. So, thank you to all of the City of Glendale employees who faithfully and loyally serve us all.

©Joyce Clark, 2013

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This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Lawwho have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to:http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

In response to a request for any information about the cast of characters or the city hall environment in my Mushroom blogs I received emails, anonymous of course, from presumably city staffers, past and present. I do not know these email authors and their identifiers are names like “concerned citizen” and “deep throat.” From the insider information revealed it is quite clear that they are/were city personnel. Their messages lead me to believe that even with a new City Manager there remains an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

I pulled some quotes that exemplify the majority sentiment of emails received to date. For example, “There were essentially 2 management teams – Ed’s inner circle & the leadership team.” It makes one wonder which group had the most juice.

Or this, “At agenda review it was a precursor to Council meeting where you were drilled & drilled…sometimes there was pre agenda review before the actual agenda review.” At one time I knew (now long since forgotten) which staffers were tasked with playing the roles of various councilmembers and that at times everyone would crack up because some staffers were really, really good at mimicking certain councilmembers.

There was tension at the time between Schurhammer and Carmicle. We get a glimpse with, “There was also bitter, AND I MEAN BITTER feeling between Budget & HR. Budget office had lots of problems getting info from HR.” A generalized assessment of Alma Carmicle as HR Director seems to be that she was in way over her head and relied heavily upon her staff.

With regard to the 4 staffers that either resigned or were terminated, “They were merely Ed’s good soldiers. And, yes, I get the fact that they should of (sic) told people, but everyone needs a job.” This comment brings up the proposed hotline for employees. With a hotline voices can be recognized and IP addresses can be found. Anonymity is not guaranteed. Consideration should be given to an Ombudsman who must remain neutral and can legitimately investigate allegations while maintaining the anonymity of the employee.

There are questions about Candice MacLeod’s expanded and more prominent role as Auditor with, “Candace McCloud now reports to Council. As I recall in the Charter, only certain positions report to Council and that was not one of them! Doesn’t that require a change in the Charter????” This is a concept that requires further specificity. The Charter states the City Council hires/fires its four direct appointees: The City Manager, the City Attorney, the City Judge and the City Clerk. On a regular basis these 4 appointees submitted either monthly or quarterly reports directly to the council. With this new scheme the City Auditor is not a council appointee yet must report directly to council. There will be an inherent conflict as the City Auditor is hired/fired and supervised by the City Manager. Who takes precedence? It would appear that would be the City Manager.

Lastly all agree on this, “Julie Frisoni was part of Ed’s inner circle. She knew most everything that went on and she was very much aware of the money situation.” Or, “She (Frisoni) framed every major press release and all information had to go through Marketing.” Another comment was, “She is unqualified to be in that position. As far as I know she does not have a Master’s Degree which HR policies says (sic) you need for that position.”

There you have it. Some brave staffers have found a way to weigh in. Please keep those emails coming to clarkjv@aol.com. Your voices are an essential part of the story.

©Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to:http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Over the weekend one of the many emails I received asked questions about Acting Assistant Julie Frisoni’s role in the Early Retirement Program (ERP). What did Frisoni, at that time the Director of Marketing and Communications, know and when did she know it? The writer of the email, based on the information in the audit, asks why the marketing director was conveniently left out of any headlines in the paper.

A review of the external audit report page 22 states, “On August 19, 2009, the Arizona Republic requested information from the City regarding the ERP…” On the same page of the report it further states, “On May 21, 2010 the Arizona Republic made a second public records request for information on the ERP…” In an email dated August 26, 2009 from Pam Kavanaugh (at that time Assistant City Manager) to Alma Carmicle (at that time Director of Human Resources) with reference to the public information requests made by the Arizona Republic she states, “If it is Budget related Sherry can handle – if it is H.R. related you can handle. Please keep Marketing in the loop on what is occurring. Has the other information been released? Have the employees been notified?”

From the audit report (Frisoni was interviewed one time) it appears that Frisoni may not have known the details of the ERP until 5 months after its inception but she certainly knew the facts by August of 2009. She states in the audit report that the information she supplied to the media was based upon her reliance on information supplied by others such as Schurhammer, Kavanaugh and Carmicle. If nothing else, it appears that she could have been a conduit of disinformation to the media. City staffers continue to believe that as Director of Marketing and Communications, she participated in the weekly meetings of upper management. As a result of her presumed attendance at those weekly meetings they believe that she knew of the ERP from its inception and the disastrous results that ensued long before it became public knowledge. As City spokesperson the assumption can be made that she would have needed to know about potential negative news about the city in order to spin it in the most positive light possible. At times that may have required the omission of information. Why hasn’t the media questioned the level of her involvement? Perhaps it’s more convenient for them to overlook one of their own in the business. 

Will we ever know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? It’s doubtful. It looks like 4 staffers will take the fall while the roster of the unscathed continues to grow: Beasley, Kavanaugh, Lynch, Carmicle, Loeb, and Frisoni. Many Glendale residents feel that her appointment as Acting Assistant City Manager is a slap in the face because Frisoni was part of the regime at the time of extremely poor (and perhaps illegal) decision making. Residents are asking why some are made accountable yet others continue to skate? There are no answers here but perhaps we will get answers from the Attorney General’s Office some day.

On another note, the city council approved the hiring of Michael Bailey as the new City Attorney.  According to the media he left Surprise, AZ when he and the city could not agree on his compensation. Mr. Bailey previously worked for Glendale and has history as a result.

Lastly, city council held an Esession on August 4, 2013 after its workshop and guess what was on its agenda…again? Yep, the arena management deal. It could be a standard place holder for an Esession or it could signal that there is some issue still unresolved. This is the second time it’s been on an Esession recently. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

©Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to:http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Glendale City Council

Glendale City Council

Don’t expect any fireworks at this first voting meeting on August 13, 2013 of the Glendale City Council after their summer break. They are still feeling the warm glow of sand, surf, summer and best of all, having been away from one another. Wait until the contentious issues surface such as the results of the external audit. This item once had a relatively small price tag and has now ballooned to half a million dollars.

This meeting will probably last an hour or less. Although there are 24 items to be decided and voted upon 19 of them are on the Consent Agenda and can be voted upon in one action. Only 5 items are not on the Consent Agenda.

This is the last night meeting that will convene at 7 PM.  Ordinance 2858 (which we can assume will be approved) will change the evening meeting time to 6 PM at the next meeting in two weeks. It seems counterproductive to move the meeting time up by one hour. To what end and to whose end? It makes it more difficult to arrive by 6 PM for those who work and want to attend. It is tied to another change whereby public comments will be at the beginning of the meeting rather than at the end. This change was made under the guise of accommodation of the hoards of citizens wishing to publicly comment and being made to wait until the end of the meeting. It accommodates the hoard consisting of Ken Jones, Arthur Thruston, Bill Dempski and the Marwicks, regular speakers at every meeting. After all they do go to bed rather early. Ironically, the Marwicks live in Phoenix, not Glendale.  In Glendale they have a forum. In Phoenix they do not.

Other changes that will probably be approved on August 13th are: adjusting the term of the Vice Mayor from January to January, a calendar year rather than a fiscal year; instituting a two year term limit of service for councilmembers on subcommittees (too bad it’s not term limits as an elected official); granting staff more time to respond to council items of special interest. It had been 30 days, now it is 60 days; and formalizing the council workshop meeting location in B-3. Mayor Weiers had insisted workshop meetings be held in council chambers. That didn’t last long because it was more expensive and frankly, logistically it simply didn’t work. One action yet to be decided and that will be discussed at the council workshop on August 20, 2013 is the addition of time for prayer at the start of each voting meeting. This item alone could make that workshop session very entertaining.

Fischer 2

City Manager
Fischer

Item 23, the next to the last item on the agenda, is interesting for the very nature of what it does not contain. It is an update of city signature authorization for banking transactions. It recognizes the new City Manger Brenda Fischer. It retains Horatio Skeet as Assistant City Manager and Jamsheed Mehta as Interim Assistant City Manager. Yet Ms. Fischer placed Mr. Skeete on paid administrative leave pending yet another investigation which she institued. This action to recognize signature authorization could merely be procedural. It is quite conceivable that in 2 weeks they will do it all again and add Julie Frisoni as Acting Assistant City Manager. In her role as acting assistant city manager she will oversee communications, information technology, community and economic development, planning and building safety, intergovernmental affairs and the mayor and council

Frisoni

Acting Assistant City Manager
Julie Frisoni

As an Acting Assistant City Manager, what is Frisoni’s expertise and what are her credentials? There is little public information to be had. She studied communication and broadcasting at Arizona State University – but did she graduate? With a degree in Communications?  She worked at KPNX-TV and applied for a communications position with the city. She has no formal training in public administration or business administration and no credentials in managing in any field other than communications/marketing but she has plenty of political savvy. When the former Communications Director left Ms. Frisoni quickly rose to the position of Director of Communications/Marketing. She was part of former City Manager Ed Beasley’s inner power circle and worked closely with him in a position of trust.  Which leads one to ask, when Beasley gave direction or approval to move Trust fund revenues was Ms. Frisoni in that staff meeting? Probably. What did she know about the transfers and when did she know it? Ms Frisoni’s temporary promotion shouldn’t come as a surprise since Ms. Fischer’s early career included public relations in Henderson, Nevada and communications in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Sisters under the skin?

So, folks, city council is back along with a new cast of characters. This season’s political dance, fascinating yet often cruel, is about to begin again. What will be the result for the people of Glendale?

©Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to:http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Recently media stories have focused on Glendale’s new City Manager, Brenda Fischer; Glendale’s Assistant City Manager, Horatio Skeete (on paid administrative leave) and the results of the AG’s inquiry into the Glendale City Council’s possible violation of the Arizona Open Meeting Law. Wow! That’s a plate full!

Fischer 2

City Manager
Brenda Fischer

First up…City Manager Brenda Fischer…the true test of her effectiveness will be if she can successfully manage Glendale’s debt crisis. Can she convince this council that cuts of at least $5M (maybe more) must be made over the next 5 years? This council has been reluctant to cut anything and has in fact, spent more on items such as the Beacon Sports contract; the external audit (which has now ballooned to a price tag of half a million dollars); and the $15M a year payment to ArizonaIce for management of the city’s arena.

Skeete

Assistant City Manager
Horatio Skeete

Next up is Assistant City Manager Horatio Skeete currently on leave and replaced in the interim by Communications Director Julie Frisoni. It can be assumed that Fischer’s call for yet another investigation stems from his handling of the transfers from the Risk Management Trust Fund and the Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund. During their tenures, there is nothing — I repeat, NOTHING, that happened in Glendale without the knowledge of and support/disapproval of Ed Beasley, former City Manager and Elaine Scruggs, former Mayor. If one reads the International City Managers Association (ICMA) Code of Conduct, one would see that one of the Code requisites is that subordinate staff, i.e., Assistant City Manager, Department heads, etc., are impelled to carry out the directives of the City Manager, whether they agree with those City Manager directives or not. It is hoped that as the new investigation commissioned by the new City Manager commences the final decision maker regarding the fund transfers will be identified.

Coalition 1 photo

Glendale
City Council

Lastly, the AG’s inquiry into possible council Open Meeting Law violations is laughable. Boy, was it thorough! The AG relied upon an AG interview with only one councilmember and the assertions of no wrong doing by City Attorney Nick DiPiazza who, in turn, asked all seven councilmembers whether they had been bad boys and girls.  It’s like the proverbial fox guarding the hen house. I can see it now. DiPiazza to a councilmember: Did you discuss any deal points when you met with the NHL and Renaissance principals? Councilmember, said with indignation: Heavens no! We talked about the weather, living in Arizona and our families. We never discussed any deal points. After all, it was a  “meet and greet.” Does anyone want to buy a bridge in Brooklyn?

 

©Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to:http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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