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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

As we prepare to enter 2014 it’s a good time to look at the major issues Glendale will face. Here is Glendale’s Top Ten for 2014:

  1. The winner for the coming year is Glendale’s financial future. The City Manager and Executive Finance Director will offer a series of options, some critical, some not, to right the situation. Will the city council grow a backbone and adopt some stringent measures that are sure to be unpopular with the general public?
  2. Will IceArizona be able to deliver on its promise of enhanced arena revenues to recompense Glendale for its annual $15 million dollar management fee? The $15 million annual fee coupled with another $12 million in arena construction debt repayment contributes to Glendale’s heavy financial burden.
  3. The Camelback Ranch area has never delivered on its promise to perform. When the recession hit all development came to a screeching halt. Will the city create n incentive strategy for development of the surrounding area? Its annual $13 million dollar debt construction repayment is yet another major financial burden.
  4. Will the Attorney General’s office investigation into former City Manager Ed Beasley and deals cut with former financial consultant Art Lynch and former HR Director Alma Carmicle result in charges being filed?
  5. What impacts will the arrival of the first of 144 F-35 aircraft have on Luke Air Force Base, Glendale and the surrounding West Valley area?
  6. Will the Arizona Cardinals continue to seek its dream of a bubble tent practice facility on Glendale’s Youth Sports fields? What about their desire for Glendale’s long-promised parking garage as a means of fulfilling its parking requirements as vacant land diminishes at Westgate?
  7. Will the new City Manager Brenda Fischer continue to fire employees as her solution to any future irregularities? Will a new round of internal warfare erupt between police and fire over the severely constrained city revenue pot of money as her empathy toward fire (her husband is/was a firefighter in Henderson, Nevada) becomes more evident?
  8. With November, 2014 city election for councilmembers in the Cholla, Barrel and Ocotillo districts bring new faces and new agendas and another shake up in the fragile council coalitions?
  9. Will the temporary city sales tax increase become permanent as a solution to Glendale’s financial mess? How will citizens react to the broken promise of its sunset in 2017? Will citizens see increases in all kinds of local taxes while experiencing a decrease in the level of services provided?
  10. How will the city find the money to pay for its hosting of the Super Bowl in 2015? A figure of $1.7 million dollars is unrealistic and doesn’t equal the amount spent by Glendale on its last Super Bowl hosting gig.

Lastly there is the unknown. There is always a new, unforeseen crisis. What will it/they be for Glendale in 2014? Councilmembers will continue to combat and to abuse one another and all of us. The City Manager will continue to offer policies to strengthen her power and there is no one on council to guard against it. Departments such as police and fire will vie for shrinking resources. New players and power brokers will emerge. All that can be said with any degree of certainty is that it won’t be a dull year. Thank goodness there will be plenty of fodder for upcoming blogs!

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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As a result of an external audit that cost Glendale in excess of a half million dollars four city personnel either resigned or were terminated. Diane Goke, Budget Director and Sherry Schurhammer, Executive Director of Finance resigned. Horatio Skeete, Assistant City Manager (at the time in question he was a Deputy and Pam Kavanaugh was Assistant City Manager) and Don Bolton, Assistant Financial Officer were terminated by newly hired City Manager Brenda Fischer.

In an Arizona Republic article of October 21, 2013 entitled Appeals board: Staying quiet wasn’t option for ex-Glendale bookkeeper City Manager Brenda Fischer said, “City employees are duty bound to find a way to speak up when warranted.” Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/community/glendale/articles/20131018appeals-board-staying-quiet-wasnt-option-for-exglendale-bookkeeper.html . She goes on to say, “Whether it’s going around the management, whether it’s going to the (Attorney General’s) Office anonymously. We had an ethics hotline. They could have anonymously informed the media, put some public pressure on it. They could have written letters to the editor. They could have — if they were uncomfortable being asked to do something inappropriate or illegal — they could have resigned from their employment.” Uh, excuse me but rarely, if ever, are anonymous complaints considered legitimate by the media or Attorney General’s Office and followed up. Since when is a whistle blower required to resign to report wrong doing within the organization?

She must of course be referring to a world peopled by Mother Theresa. Not the real Glendale world as it existed four years ago. There is no such thing as a perfect world, not then and not now – the one that Fischer apparently believes existed at the time. Fischer acted upon her lack of knowledge and her inability to understand a Glendale ruled by City Manager Beasley. She came in as the new City Manager and felt that she needed to make a point.

It was a time of pervasive “Big Brotherism.” If any city personnel had any kind of interaction with a councilmember they were required to report it and its content. Former Councilmember Lieberman’s and my Council Assistant, Perry Baker (now deceased), was terminated because he refused to follow that City Manager directive. It was a time when the atmosphere was heavy with fear and intimidation for all personnel.

 Mr. Skeete and Mr. Bolton graciously shared their submitted correspondence to the city regarding this matter. Mr. Bolton, on page 5 of his correspondence stated, “At this time I would also like to point out that the CM (City Manager) and the executive management team controlled what items were placed on Council agenda’s (sic). The CM and executive management team also performed extensive reviews of all council reports and could slide presentations brought forward by any department. Therefore, all information regarding what to include or not include in any Council presentation had to be reviewed by the CM and executive management team before it could be presented to Council. These CM and executive management team reviews also include multiple ‘dry runs’ where presenters were asked to rehearse their verbal presentations of the content being present to a presenter’s planned ed. It was not uncommon for the CM and executive management team to request modifications verbal and/or slide presentations or the council reports.”

That comment leads to a question long unanswered. Why were these four people targeted exclusively? We know part of the answer. Beasley, Kavanaugh, Tindall, Lynch and Carmicle had left the employ of the city. But other executive management team members stayed and are still there to this day. On page 2 of Gallagher & Kennedy correspondence representing Mr. Skeete it says, “…the City Manager’s Executive Team, including the City Attorney, discussed the ERP (Early Retirement Program) on numerous occasions over the course of several months in 2008-09. Any notion that the staff supposedly tried to hide the ERP from the City Attorney is flatly incorrect.” On page 3 of Mr. Bolton’s correspondence he states, “My email on Exhibit 6 (dated December 15, 2008 used in the external audit) explicitly states…’Sherry, here is the file I received from Craig (Tindall) for the retirement incentive’.” It can be assumed that City Attorney Tindall as part of the Executive Management Team knew of the ERP and its implications. Yet he did not speak up in 2008-09. Why did he wait until 2012 when he was vying with Mr. Skeete for the job of Interim City Manager?

Who were the other members of the Executive Management Team, what did they know and when did they know it? Julie Frisoni as the City’s spokesperson was undoubtedly part of the Executive Management Team and there are emails in the external audit that reflect her knowledge of the Early Retirement Program. Her emails asking for clarification of the factual financial information to be publicly released indicate that she had knowledge of the ERP. Why did she not say anything? According to now City Manager Fischer, she had an obligation to report — to the press, the Attorney General’s Office or the employee hotline. Yeah, right. Keeping quiet got her an appointment by Fischer as an Interim Assistant City Manager, as unqualified as she may be.

The sad part of all of this is that those who appear to be primarily responsible remain unscathed and those who did their bidding at their direction took the pipe. Is life unfair? We all know that it can be but it hits home when it happens to people you know.

Staying quiet in Glendale was an employee’s only option then and guess what? It hasn’t changed. Staying quiet in Glendale is a smart employee option today unless you believe in Fairy Godmothers or Santa Claus.

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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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.

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