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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Joe Hester, President of the Glendale Fire Union, had an opinion piece in the Glendale Star dated July 11, 2014 entitled A lot of talk, now is time for action. Here is the link: http://www.glendalestar.com/opinion/editorials/article_409c876a-0618-11e4-aa9f-001a4bcf887a.html .

He made quite a few statements that bear further scrutiny. One was, “…the fact that Glendale is Arizona’s busiest fire department per capita…” Why, you ask, Is Glendale’s fire department the busiest? Does Glendale have more sick people and medical emergencies than every other city in the Valley? No. Does Glendale have more fires than every other city in the Valley? No. What Glendale does have is an automatic aid system shared with every other city in the Valley. But there is no parity. Glendale responds to its partner cities far more often than they respond in Glendale. That’s why Glendale’s fire department is the busiest.

Glendale Fire Union President, Joe Hester, goes on to say, “Simply put, our city cannot cut $27 million a year in revenue…” That is true but that was never the plan. At the time of the passage of the sales tax increase with the sunset provision, the plan was to gradually cut $5 million a year from Glendale’s budget. It was a plan that could have been accomplished had council had the backbone to implement cuts every year. It was never the plan to cut the entire sales tax windfall of $27 million from Glendale’s budget in one year.

Mr. Hester is now upset with Mayor Weiers and Councilmember Hugh because they filled out candidate questionnaires, “promising to save public safety from the chopping block at all costs.” I suspect that is still their intent but not in the manner the fire union desires.

It is interesting to read Mr. Hester saying, “We know the city in the past has struck bad sports deal and in the future may face the threat of bankruptcy.” Where was the Glendale fire union when the deal with IceArizona for $15 million a year was inked? Where was the Glendale fire union when the Camelback Ranch deal was struck? Will the Glendale fire union support cuts in the fire department of all non-core functions (fire and emergency medical response) if Glendale does indeed face bankruptcy?

Mr. Hester complains by saying, “…especially with paid petition circulators on the street…” He is referring to the fact that the Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) has circulated an initiative petition to overturn the permanent sales tax increase recently approved by the city council. What he fails to mention is that fire fighters were out in droves, often blocking the AFEC’s effort to collect signatures. They also recited dire consequences to potential signers if the sunset were to occur.

On July 4, 2014 the Arizona Republic ran a story about the Glendale city clerk’s efforts to validate the initiative petition signatures. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2014/07/04/petitions-filed-let-glendale-voters-decide-tax-hike/12208445/ . I may be incorrect but it has been my understanding that the Secretary of State verifies initiative petition signatures.

Leaving signature verification to Glendale (biased against any effort to sunset the sales tax) is like asking the fox to guard the hen house.  In a previous effort to get an initiative on the ballot regarding removal of the sales tax on food all petition signatures were ruled invalid because the type on the petitions was a smidge too small. When the petitions were reproduced for distribution to signature gatherers the reproduction reduced the petition type slightly, by something like two-tenths. That was enough to terminate the entire effort. This time, with 20,000 petition signatures turned in it may be more difficult for Glendale to disqualify a minimum of 9,000 signatures. If Glendale succeeds expect this issue to end up in court.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

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I had just finished writing this blog when I received 2 robo calls. The first one was from the Arizona Free Enterprise Club announcing it was seeking petition signatures to put the city council’s affirmative decision to eliminate the sunset provision of the temporary sales tax increase on the ballot. In the call they announced that they would be at the Foothills Recreation Center and the Glendale Main Library this weekend from 9 AM to 5 PM both days gathering signatures to get it on the ballot. I wish them success. I will make a special point of going to the Main Library this weekend to sign their petition.

The second robo call was several hours later and it was from the Glendale Fire Union urging people not to sign the petition and promising dire consequences if the sales tax increase is sunset in 2017. Everyone acknowledges that Glendale’s debt burden is unsustainable. Perhaps it would be more productive if the Fire Union got behind an effort to urge reduction of the city’s debt by selling some of its assets. It would make the entire sales tax sunset issue a moot point. 

The battle lines are drawn. Voters will be fed misinformation and exaggeration from both sides. They will have to wade through the claims and counter claims made until their eyes are crossed. Will voters decide to send a strong message of austerity to the city council or will they decide Glendale cannot continue to exist without a permanent sales tax increase? It looks like the voters of Glendale will be given the opportunity to ultimately decide the issue. Which side will be more successful in activating their voter base? It’s fair to say that the Sales Tax Sunset Elimination War is officially declared. Now…on to the rest of this blog.

The June 24, 2016 city council meeting had two major items not yet reviewed in my blog. One was the passage of Ordinance 2897 removing the sunset provision from the sales tax increase. The other was Ordinance 2899 eliminating city permitted events from the requirements of the city’s noise ordinance.

The elimination of noise provisions for city permitted events is a city-wide ordinance. If there is a city permitted event in Sahuaro Ranch Park, it applies. If there is a city permitted event at Arrowhead Mall, it applies. It does not affect just the residents adjacent to Westgate. It was approved unanimously by city council. Councilmember Chavira, representing west Glendale and the area of Westgate, had no qualms about throwing his residents under the Glendale bus. Perhaps it is time for the voters of his district to question his representation of them, their concerns and their interests.

Sam Allen, Code Compliance Director, also neatly side-stepped a question about the number of previous noise complaints in the Westgate area by saying he did not have that figure as noise complaints are handled by the police department. There were allusions by staff that neighborhoods would remain protected but no specifics as to how that would be accomplished.  Another question asked was how many events declined to locate in Glendale as a result of the city’s noise ordinance? That, too, was deftly ignored.

Ken Sturgis, a citizen commentator, said that he lived .8 of a mile away from Westgate and often heard Westgate event noise within his home. His neighbors heard it as well but felt that the city would do nothing about it. I live a mile away from Westgate and heard noise but not at the same level of intrusion that neighbors living closer to Westgate would have heard. So, in the name of flexibility and competiveness, all neighborhoods throughout Glendale have lost all protection from city permitted event noise. They will experience sound and fury…signifying nothing.

The other ordinance, passed on a 4 to 3 vote (with our usual 4, Knaack, Martinez, Sherwood and Chavira in the affirmative), was the elimination of the sunset provision of the sales tax increase. I was the councilmember who originally insisted it be a provision of the sales tax increase. I did not offer that stipulation on a whim. It was the only way I could support the increase. I trusted and relied upon my fellow councilmembers to keep their word. Little did I know that their acceptance of the sunset provision was done with fingers crossed behind their backs.

Barrel district council candidate Randy Miller spoke to the issue and said the two options, making the sales tax increase permanent or utilizing draconian cuts, were not the only options available. Mayor Weiers agreed and that was the basis of his “no” vote. Mr. Miller said there is always an Option 3 and crafting it should be the goal.

At the time of the passage of sales tax increase with the sunset provision senior staff offered a plan to gradually absorb the $25 million in the temporary sales tax increase by making incremental cuts of $5 million a year over a 5 year period. The first signal that council would not have the fortitude to make the necessary cuts over 5 years was when they could not even accept privatization of custodial maintenance of city buildings. That decision sent a message, loud and clear, to senior staff that making the necessary spending cuts over 5 years was a council non-starter.

I marvel at the city’s propensity and adroitness in propagandizing the issue.  Knowing that the Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) is currently circulating a petition to get the council’s vote for elimination of the sunset provision on the ballot, senior staff slipped in a new concept.  The sales tax increase will be reviewed during the budget process each year. Be careful what you wish for. It would be ironic indeed if, at the next budget discussions in the spring of 2015, council decided to raise the sales tax increase. After all, Councilmember Sherwood publicly stated that he believed it would be necessary.

The offer of sales tax increase review every year was strategically offered to mitigate the anger of Glendale voters should the AFEC be successful in getting the question on this fall’s ballot. The city will be holding out the hope that the increase has a chance of being reduced or going away in the future. Maybe after we’re all dead.

The city assertion flies in the face of the fact that the bond rating agencies are taking a close look and relying upon the elimination of the sunset provision to satisfy them. The bond rating agencies will again be very concerned about Glendale’s financial stability when they realize that now the sales tax increase stands an annual possibility of reduction or elimination. By adding this provision of annual review the stability that the bond rating agencies rely upon has been removed.

Another mitigation strategy that the city is already employing is on its website under Frequently Asked Questions about the elimination of the sunset provision. Here is the link:http://www.glendaleaz.com/documents/FAQEliminationofSunsetforTempTax062514.pdf .

The city’s message is that dire consequences will occur should the tax sunset in 2017. They used the same strategy years ago when a group of us nearly got the elimination of food sales tax on the ballot. The city prepared a slick pamphlet asking Glendale citizens to choose what cuts they would be willing to make. All choices were dire and it scared the voters. It worked that time and sadly, it may work this time.

If the Arizona Free Enterprise Club is successful in acquiring the requisite number of signatures to get the question on the fall ballot, don’t buy into scare tactics this time. It’s time for Glendale voters to send a direct message to council and senior management staff. That message is, live within your means. Don’t spend more than the city receives in revenue. If 22% of the budget is devoted to the debt burden, tell them it is their job to reduce the debt.

Which brings up the question, can Camelback Ranch, the Media Center, the Parking Garages, the Convention Center, the Civic Center or Jobing.com arena be sold? I’m not an attorney but I would say “yes.” Many years ago as a small business owner, my landlord sold the building in which I was a tenant. The new landlord and I could not come to mutually agreed terms. When my lease expired I did not renew. I left that location.

Glendale owns these buildings and has the right as landlord to sell them. Tenants in any of these sites would then have to negotiate new lease terms with the new landlord. Glendale may lose some money by selling at present market value but it would remove the debt and/or the O&M costs associated with the asset. Glendale must get its debt burden under control. Right now it is over 22%. It should be under 10%. If Glendale cannot afford these assets, selling them seems to be a prudent course of action.

There are those who will immediately say, we can’t do that. Instead, council direction should be given to the city attorney to make it happen. The city simply cannot continue down this unsustainable debt burden path forever.

There are those who will say, what’re you… nuts? The city can’t do that! It reminds me of something Councilmember Hugh said at this council meeting. He said, paraphrased, that the current council is fractured because its members do not share the same strategy for curing Glendale’s financial situation. Each side believes it has the better path and the right path to solve Glendale’s fiscal crisis.

I have no doubt that the councilmembers love this city. They demonstrate it daily by their service. Unfortunately, a majority believe the only solution is to tax the city out of its financial crisis. The minority believes that there are other choices, painful, yes… but other choices.

It has been my honor and a great privilege to have served as a Glendale councilmember for 16 years. I have lived in Glendale for nearly 50 years. I love this city. You love this city. It is our home. Placing a greater and greater tax burden on those who live in this home, is not prudent…and it sure isn’t the best way to grow Glendale.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have 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, democratic, 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 and 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.

Another blog follower sent me copies of the paperwork filed with the Glendale City Clerk by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club on June 6, 2014. I was originally informed that it was a referendum packet but that information was incorrect. It is an initiative effort. Below are copies of the first page of the Statement of Organization of a Political Committee (PAC) and the Application for Initiative or Referendum Petition. The PAC has until July 3, 2014 to gather the necessary number of signatures, 10,434. I suspect they will have no difficulty in collecting not only the requisite number of signatures but many more. 

The text of the Initiative is as follows: “Adopting the Glendale Taxpayer Protection Act of 2014, which amends the Glendale City Charter, Article VI, Section 7, by decreasing the transaction privilege tax rate, as defined in the art, by seven-tenths of one percent (.7%), with such decrease taking effect August 1, 2017, and requiring a supermajority vote of the council to increase the transaction privilege tax, effective upon passage and proclamation of the act.”

The supermajority provision to increase the sales tax rate means that 5 out of 7 councilmembers would have to approve any increase.

The packet was taken out by Scott Mussi, Executive Director of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club and the Committee Treasurer is Timothy La Sota, an attorney with the firm of Tiffany & Bosco.

Applicationandlanguage_Page_1

Application for Initiative

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Statement of Organization

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have 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, democratic, 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 and 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.

 

 

 

 

 

One of my many followers sent me this link:  http://www.macrumors.com/2014/06/06/apple-others-2-million-each-super-bowl-50/.  Apple, along with other Bay area tech companies, Intel, Yahoo and Google, has given their Super Bowl Host Committee $2 million in cash and other unspecified services to offset San Francisco Bay area taxpayer costs of hosting Super Bowl 50.

Hey Apple…could you spare a little more and gift Glendale $2 million in cash to offset the taxpayer costs of hosting our 2015 Super Bowl?

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club visited Glendale City Hall today, June 6, 2014 and made a beeline for the City Clerk’s office. What for, you say? It seems they have taken out a referendum packet on the issue of council’s decision to make the temporary sales tax increase permanent. Don’t be surprised if Glendale’s voters get to weigh in on the issue this fall.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have 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, democratic, 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 and 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.

Today I received via snail mail an 8 1/2” X 11” mailer from the Arizona Free Enterprise Organization. Below are pictures of the front and back sides of the mailer.

AZ Free Enterprise and Chavira Mar 21 2014 jpg_Page_1AZ Free Enterprise and Chavira Mar 21 2014 jpg_Page_2

Presumably it was mailed to all registered voters in the Yucca district of Glendale. That is the district Councilmember Chavira represents. It also is the district that is home to Jobing.com Arena and the proposed Tohono O’odham casino, two perpetually hot topics. They sent a similar mailing on Councilmember Sherwood of the Sahuaro district. While councilmembers Martinez and Knaack are retiring and will not run again, Sherwood is up for reelection in 2016. This is the majority coalition these days.

Although Chavira does not stand for reelection until 2016 it looks like he is going to have a tough time politically for the next two years. It couldn’t happen to a nicer fella. Let’s hope he’s a one term councilmember. Chavira voted in favor of the arena management deal that requires the city to pay $15 million dollars annually. He also supports raising Glendale’s property tax rate by 2% and removing the sunset provision that would have ended the temporary sales tax increase in 2017. His decisions demonstrate that he is comfortable with raising taxes or keeping them high to satisfy the monetary needs of Jobing.com Arena at taxpayer expense. All of this from a guy who ran a campaign with considerable financial support from the fire unions and Councilmember Alvarez. I bet she’s biting nails because she supported him. To date he has not supported her on any major issue she espouses. He ran promising fiscal responsibility. That promise didn’t last long.

I really didn’t know anything about the Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) until I googled them.  I did know that they had joined with Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett in a suit about campaign funding. It went all the way to the Supreme Court which ruled in AFEC’s favor. Here’s the link if you are interested: http://www.azfree.org/ . They describe themselves as, “The Arizona Free Enterprise Club was founded in 2005 as a free market, pro-growth advocacy group dedicated to Arizona issues and politics.  Our mission is to promote policies and candidates that encourage economic prosperity and limited government for all businesses and taxpayers.  The Club is a 501(C)(4) and is not affiliated with any other group or organization.”

Stay tuned. It looks like the next several years are going to be very interesting in Glendale politically.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have 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, democratic, 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 and 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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