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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

PLEASE CHECK OUT THE THREE CHAVIRA VIDEOS TO THE LEFT OF THIS COLUMN. EACH IS ABOUT A MINUTE AND A HALF IN LENGTH.

It has been 18 years and 185 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Glendale city council travel policy…It certainly was an interesting topic that had been requested by Councilmember Chavira after he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Ironically, Chavira, after having made the request for discussion, had not one substantive suggestion or comment to make. He remained largely silent as councilmembers opined and only said he thanked staff for their work on the issue and wanted Glendale, “to set the standard in travel.” That was it. That was Sammy’s entire contribution to the discussion. If you would like to view the complete council discussion, use this link:

http://glendale-az.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=2452 .

City Manager Phelps introduced the item with an apology explaining that the staff work on the issue was lacking. Councilmember Aldama was visibly upset. Why, you ask? He wanted to provide input to staff prior to bringing the issue to workshop and did not have that opportunity. Later in the discussion he suggested a citizen’s Ad Hoc Committee to draft council’s travel policy. The idea went over like a lead balloon with the rest of council literally ignoring his suggestion. He did offer one interesting statement saying “he has never misspent” taxpayer money. Yet some Glendale residents are curious as to why he gave thousands of dollars to the Glendale Women’s Club with the understanding that they would pass it on in support of yet another Glendale festival. Hmmm….

Paul Giblin of the Arizona Republic had a story online on the evening of June 21, 2016, several hours after the city council workshop. Here is the link:

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/06/20/glendale-consider-tougher-taxpayer-funded-travel-rules/86152722/ . In his story Giblin says, “The newspaper (Arizona Republic) reported on March 4 that Chavira expensed $2,075 to see his friend Ruben Gallego sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, and $1,933 to watch Pope Francis address Congress in Washington (on a large screen TV for overflow crowd).

“The Republic also reported that the first-term councilman billed taxpayers a combined $1,033 for poorly documented business-development trips to the Los Angeles area, and a combined $3,136 for airline ticket change fees, seat upgrades and baggage charges since taking office in January 2013.”

The council word “du jour” was “transparency” begun by Councilmember Malnar and repeated continually by the rest of council. It is a word so over used by politicians as to lose all meaning. What Glendale taxpayers expect and deserve is full disclosure that leads to accountability when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars. Several interesting comments were made by various councilmembers. 

Councilmember Tolmachoff spent the better part of five minutes explaining the importance of councilmember travel. For a moment I thought I was back in school. Her rationale centered on the building of relationships that would further Glendale’s agenda as well as the personal development gained through travel. I would suggest that both of those arguments are debatable. She indicated that she wanted staff to develop a method of posting her spending of taxpayer money online.  This is not a new or original idea. This is a concept that I have publicly advocated for as part of my campaign platform for four months, ever since I announced my candidacy to replace Chavira.

Councilmember Turner, after a vigorous defense of staff’s work on the issue, proceeded to offer a litany of specific changes that he wanted. They ranged from provision of itemized documentation; the use of pre and post travel reports; justification for reimbursement of travel change fees; alerting the City Manager of planned travel; and CFO approval of travel expenses. Generally there was council consensus on the rejection of the use of per diem by councilmembers and the desire to post councilmember travel reports online in order to provide greater transparency (there’s that word again). Assistant City Manager Duensing summarized the discussion by stating that staff would be back at a future date with recommendations to increase council “transparency.”

Three recent opinion pieces clearly offer the reasons as to why the need for Glendale city council travel policy review was required. The first is a Letter to the Editor by Ron Myers, constable of the Arrowhead Justice Precinct in Glendale offered on March 10, 2016:

“As an elected public official in Maricopa County who lives in Glendale, I am appalled and dismayed to read a story in The Republic that Glendale City Councilman Chavira has abused the trust of the taxpayers in Glendale by spending lavishly on questionable trips and meals charged to his expense account that we all pay for.

“What possible city business could it be for him to fly to Washington, D.C., to observe the Pope’s speech on a TV monitor or to watch his friend get sworn in as a congressman? Does he really think he can justify spending over $400 on dinner for his superiors in the Phoenix Fire Department while out of town?

“The City of Glendale takes one more black eye from out-of-control politicians. Shame on him and shame on the City of Glendale for allowing this fraud and abuse.”

Another is an opinion piece by Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic on March 25, 2010. She said:

“Glendale’s travelin’ man, Councilman Sammy Chavira, is asking for a review of the city’s travel policy. Apparently, it’s not clear to him that taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the $2,000 tab for him to travel to Washington, D.C. to see his pal, Rueben Gallego, sworn into Congress. Apparently, he believes it was a legitimate taxpayer expense to fly him to the nation’s Capital so that he could watch Pope Francis address Congress. Clearly, Glendale citizens needed to spend $420 for a posh seafood dinner party at a celebrated restaurant in Washington, D.C. Giblin reports that Chavira’s 2014 dinner party included several Phoenix officials, including two of Chavira’s bosses. Chavira is a Phoenix fire fighter.

“Yeah, I can see where there would be a clear need for Glendale taxpayers to foot that bill.

“Chavira said this week that recent medial reports (read: Giblin’s excellent dogging of this story) have led him to believe the city needs to review its policy. ‘While I have always followed the travel policies of the city, I am also completely supportive of reviewing the council’s policies and guidelines,’ he told his colleagues. The policy allows elected officials to decide what is and is not reasonable. Essentially it relies upon the city to elect ethical and honest leaders who don’t look to lax policies as an excuse to rack up frequent flier miles at the public’s expense.

“Given that that isn’t working in Glendale, perhaps it is time for the council to review travel. Or maybe it’s time for the citizens to review who they are putting on council.”

The third piece is a short video conversation by Columnist E.J. Montini and reporters Paul Giblin and Craig Harris as they talk about government officials expensing questionable trips to taxpayers and the lack of accountability in monitoring how they spend taxpayers’ money. Here is the link:  http://azc.cc/1p4sVnQ  .

Laurie Roberts had it right when she said, “…it’s time for the citizens to review who they are putting on the council.” It’s time to remove Sammy Chavira from city council.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘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 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 material. 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.

It has been 18 years and 141 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

By May 4, 2016 I had turned in my nominating petitions with far more validated voter signatures than required. It didn’t take long for the opposition to ask for copies of my petitions. I received this email from the City Clerk on May 6, 2016: “I am sending this information to you as part of our neutrality and transparency with candidates.  Mr. Allan Lira requested copies of your nomination petitions.”

This is nothing new. Almost every candidate will ask for copies of his/her opponent’s nominating petitions in the hope that they can prove that there are not enough valid signatures. If successful they can get rid of a potential opponent without ever having to run against him or her. Only occasionally does it prove successful. I’m afraid Mr. Lira won’t have any luck for we validated nearly 700 registered voter signatures before the petitions were submitted to the City Clerk.

We wondered who Mr. Lira is and why would he be asking for copies of my petitions. One of our group found this. Mr. Allan Lira is on Linked In and here is the information he provides:

Allan Lira                                                                                                                       Data analyst at Gallego for Phoenix                                                                    Location: Glendale, Arizona        Industry: Political Organization

  1. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 99
  2. Gallego for Arizona
  3. Marquez for Arizona

His listed previous work experience:

Organizer

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 99

November 2014 – January 2015 (3 months)

Data Analyst/Team Lead

Gallego for Arizona

September 2014 – November 2014 (3 months)

Campaign Manager

Marquez for Arizona

January 2014 – August 2014 (8 months)

Data Analyst/Field Organizer

Gallego for Phoenix

June 2013 – November 2013 (6 months)

It appears that Mr. Lira currently works for Ruben Gallego as a data analyst at Gallego for Phoenix.  Ruben Gallego assumed office as Arizona’s 7th district U.S. Representative on January 3, 2015.

Thanks to the Arizona Republic we are all keenly aware of Sammy Chavira’s travel on your dime—taxpayer money. One of those infamous trips was for $2,075 to go back to Washington, D.C. to see his good buddy…wait for it… Rueben Gallego sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives.

Arizona Republic March 4, 2016

Arizona Republic
March 4, 2016

 

It’s interesting to see how the links within Sammy’s web interconnect. Sammy spent your money to see Gallego sworn in. Sammy’s questionable travel expenses were exposed by the Arizona Republic and include the Gallego trip. Here is the link to Paul Giblin’s front page story of March 4, 2016 about Sammy’s travel: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/03/04/glendale-councilman-sammy-chavira-charges-24k-trips-3-years-taxpayers/78857734/ .

Sammy is now getting assistance from the very same good buddy, Gallego, in his current run for the Yucca district city council position. Could it be because Sammy is in trouble, politically…and his friend Ruben Gallego is trying to save him?

Special interests have a long history of influencing political outcomes. Union influence is one of those long standing components. The fire union, for years, has been able to manipulate election outcomes in urban areas, notably Phoenix, Glendale and several other cities in the Metro Valley. Do you believe the Food Workers Union should join the fire union in determining your councilmembers in Glendale? Across this country voters in droves are rejecting candidates under the influence of big donor, special interest money. Perhaps Glendale voters will do the same.

Just something for the voters of the Yucca district to consider…

 

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘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 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 material. 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.

It has been 18 years and 95 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

PLEASE NOTE: To the left of this blog you will see how you can donate to my campaign. You may write a check and mail it to me or you may use the PayPal button. Sammy already has a war chest of $16,000+. The last campaign contribution he received was in December of 2015, 3 months ago, from…yep, Mark Becker of Becker Billboards in the amount of $5,000. Becker tried to get his billboards sited in north Glendale at Arrowhead.

Any amount is gratefully accepted from $5 to $5,000. You must include your name, your address, your employer and your job title. That is required by law. Donations from companies and corporations are prohibited. You do not have to live in the Yucca district, or Glendale, or the state of Arizona or even the United States to make a donation. Please take a moment to help me to regain the City Council seat representing the Yucca district and to “get their voice back.”

Sammy’s invisibility continues. Paul Giblin wrote an article on March 19, 2016, entitled Glendale expenses get more scrutiny. It is not online as of this date so no link to the story is provided. In it Giblin says, “Chavira declined to discuss the matter (of council’s plan to hold a workshop on travel expenses) after a City Council work session Tuesday, his first public appearance at City Hall since returning from another trip to Washington to attend a National League of Cities conference. Chavira previously said in an email that all of the trips he expensed were for legitimate purposes.”

In another Paul Giblin story he reports on the election rematch for the Yucca district council seat between Sammy and me, saying, “Chavira has been less public about his intentions (regarding his campaign for his seat). He did not return messages from The Arizona Republic and his campaign website and Twitter account were silent on the matter Monday.” Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/03/15/sammy-chavira-joyce-clark-could-have-council-election-rematch-glendale/81590186/ .

Interesting observations emerge from Sammy’s quotes. He says his trips were for “legitimate purposes.” Of course he does. What else can he possibly say? It’s perfectly legitimate for Sammy to fly to D.C. and watch the Pope on a large screen TV…but not on the taxpayers’ dime. It’s perfectly legitimate for Sammy to fly to D.C. to watch his buddy and mentor, Rueben Gallego, get sworn in as a U.S. Representative…but not on the taxpayers’ dime. It is never legitimate to use one’s position and power to host a dinner and curry favor with one’s bosses…especially on the taxpayers’ dime.

Sammy requested and received City Attorney Michael Bailey’s opinion that Sammy’s expenses did not violate any law. I bet that statement was well crafted and carefully worded. Well, of course one would expect Sammy to request that from Bailey and Bailey would comply. After all, Bailey’s bosses are the councilmembers and he serves at their pleasure. It wouldn’t do to make one of them angry.

I have been an incumbent and I have been the opponent of an incumbent when running for the Yucca council seat. Let me tell you, City Hall does protect the incumbent in a myriad of very subtle ways. Be warned — City Hall, this election cycle. City policy is that a councilmember may not take advantage of city resources, such as appearing on the City’s cable channel, six months before an election. The primary election is in on August 30, 2016.  As of February 29, 2016 the six month restriction began. A councilmember may not use city resources, financial or otherwise, for district newsletters, any sort of mailing or event if it has not been the habit and practice of the councilmember during the entire course of a person’s term. Sammy cannot use city resources to send out a special mailing or newsletter or to host an event between now and the Primary because he has never done it during his term of office. He may continue his Friday e-newsletters as they have been produced for him since he took office.

The other observation is Sammy’s remarkable disappearance and utter silence. Many Yucca district residents are saying that since Sammy has no good defense for his actions he seems to be saying even less than his usual “thank you” and has disappeared.  That’s not a new stance for Sammy. In the past year he was AWOL from nearly a dozen council meetings or workshop meetings. There were some other instances when he participated telephonically or when he arrived late for a meeting. Sammy hasn’t exactly been on the job lately.

Other residents believe Sammy is scared realizing that he’s in a heap of political “do-do.” Some feel he is being deliberately invisible in the hopes that this will blow over by election time. That’s not going to happen. Every Yucca district voter deserves to know that Sammy’s travel expenses and his other decisions or actions, at the very least, constitute an abuse of trust voters placed in him. Yucca district deserves better. Residents want to “get their voice back.”

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘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 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 material. 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.

It has been 18 years and 78 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

As I announced in my blog of March 3, 2016 I am in the process of deciding whether to run for my former Yucca district council seat. Today on the front page of the Arizona Republic is a major story by Paul Giblin on Councilmember Chavira’s use of his council discretionary funds for travel. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/03/04/glendale-councilman-sammy-chavira-charges-24k-trips-3-years-taxpayers/78857734/ . Thank you Paul Giblin for fleshing out with extensive research what I had discussed in my February 28, 2016 blog, Sammy the spendthrift. Giblin’s article is just one more reason to tip me toward serious consideration.

Here are some bullet points from the story by Giblin:

  • “Glendale Councilman Sammy Chavira expensed a trip to Washington to see U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego sworn in.”
  • “He billed city taxpayers for another trip to Washington to see the pope.”
  • “Chavira has taken the most trips of any current council member.”

 

I am dismayed and disgusted by Sammy’s cavalier approach to spending your money, taxpayer dollars, and you should be as well. This much I can tell you. While there is no oversight (and there should be) of how a Glendale councilmember spends his or her discretionary funds. 95% of the time they are mindful of the fact that it is not their money and treat its use with respect.

As a former councilmember on the occasions that I took out-of-town trips to the National League of Cities Conventions and as a member of the League’s Public Safety Steering Committee, I turned in receipts for all of my expenditures. I often submitted Public Safety Steering Committee summary reports to senior staff and my fellow councilmembers. When I attended state League meetings sited, for example, in Scottsdale, I would not stay in a nearby hotel but rather traveled from my home to the meeting site daily. When the sites of state League meetings were too far away to accommodate this practice, such as Tucson, then I would stay in a hotel. During my entire tenure as a Glendale councilmember I never had your dollars pay for my cell phone or its monthly charges even though much of its use was city related. I never submitted monthly car mileage reimbursements. There were a handful of occasions, such as state League meetings, for which I did ask for mileage reimbursement. The point is that I was careful because it wasn’t “my” money. A majority of Glendale’s councilmembers are mindful of their council expenses. All it takes is one bad apple to destroy the people’s trust in how elected officials operate and act on their behalf.

Perhaps the most disturbing of all of Sammy’s D.C. trips was his expensing taxpayer dollars to spring for a dinner that included his bosses at the Phoenix Fire Department (Sammy is a Phoenix firefighter); now retired Glendale Fire Chief Mark Burdick; and Glendale firefighter and Phoenix Councilmember Danny Valenzuela. Oh, to be a fly on the wall. Clearly Chavira used that to self-aggrandize himself. I wonder if Phoenix Councilmember Danny Valenzuela expensed this D.C. trip to Phoenix taxpayers. I wonder if the attendees were informed of Burdick’s plans to retire as Glendale Fire Chief and subsequently run for the Glendale mayoral seat.

His trip to see the Pope and another trip to see his good friend Rueben Gallego’s inauguration are certainly questionable. No matter how he tries to spin these trips they were certainly not “city business.”

Giblin states that he set up at least three meetings with Sammy to hear his side of the story and all three meetings were cancelled. It’s reminiscent of the many meetings Sammy has scheduled with Glendale residents only to have them cancelled as well. Instead he sent an email to Giblin saying in part, “I made these trips on behalf of the city for legitimate purposes…”

Don’t forget there are other sketchy Chavira financial dealings. One was his and Councilmember Danny Valenzuela’s involvement in a Hispanic Firefighters Association event fundraiser that netted not one dime to the organization. In fact the organization lost money as it had to pay for the actions required to hold the event. How about his $8,000 sponsorship of the failed Glendale Watermelon Festival or his $2,500 sponsorship of the Glendale Dia del los Muertos, an event that allowed political activities favoring Democrat candidates for elected office.

Sammy has demonstrated a pattern of questionable financial decision making as a Glendale city councilmember. If he makes poor decisions with his council budget can you really trust him to make good decisions about the city’s budget?

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘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 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 material. 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.

Yesterday’s blog entitled “Please delete this email after you read it” regarding Councilmember Gary Sherwood’s email resulting in an allegation of violation of the state’s Open Meeting Law created quite a bit of controversy rippling through the Coyotes world, Glendale’s political world and even the journalistic world. I suppose the reaction from the Coyotes world is the most predictable.  As anyone would expect, the Coyotes fans are fiercely loyal and anything that raises the specter of the disappearance of their team from Glendale sends them into overdrive. Their first reaction is to kill the messenger. In this case that includes not only me but Mayor Weiers, the Glendale Star and the Arizona Republic.  They denigrated Mayor Weiers for outing actions that may prove to be illegal. They gnashed their teeth over my blog and the newspapers’ articles because they perceived the information as yet another hit on their beloved team.

What they fail to recognize is that while the 4 councilmembers’ actions preceded a vote on the Coyotes deal, those actions could have preceded any council vote on any issue.  The troubling issue for many people is not the outcome of the vote but rather the actions that preceded and led up to the vote. The allegation is not about the Coyotes. The allegation is about improper behavior by 4 councilmembers. An investigation by the AG’s Office will surely answer the question, did they collude behind closed doors prior to the vote? Did they conduct city business secretly to assure a positive vote? Why speak to the issue of a possible Open Meeting Law violation when instead fans can deride the messengers? Why is it alright to dismiss possible illegal behavior because it is associated with a vote on the Coyotes deal? It’s a case of situational ethics.

The reaction from the Glendale political world is also predictable. It was learned that when the email first came to light, Vice Mayor Knaack denied attending the meeting. However, that would never do and would not last long. It would have had Sherwood and Knaack as adversaries; something they can ill afford right now. Today, the explanation given is that Sherwood and Knaack were in the same car when they received a cell phone call from Woods. Two things are questionable about this scenario. Where was Sammy? After all, Sherwood in his email says, “Sammy is already on board as he was with us last night.” Even if you can swallow this car explanation, it doesn’t make the allegation go away. The Open Meeting Law says, “Splintering the quorum can be done by meeting in person, by telephone, electronically, or through other means to discuss a topic that is or may be presented to the public body for a decision.” Note that they are not denying the basis of the allegation. Are they trying to muddy the waters by responding to minutia such as where they were when the meeting of the 3 and Woods took place? It’s another case of situational ethics.

The reaction from the print world can only be described as fascinating. Yesterday afternoon, July 21, I received a phone call from Paul Giblin, an Arizona Republic reporter. He proceeded to express his offense that I dared to say that I had scooped reporter Peter Corbett and the Arizona Republic.  He opined that my writing was done on the back of Peter Corbett who had made the FOIA request. He said that my journalistic standards were not as high as that of the Arizona Republic’s, and ended by saying; enjoy writing your little blog.

Later that day, I learned that Darrell Jackson of the Glendale Star had made the same kind of FOIA request. Who made the first request?  Update: July 23, 2014. I learned today that Darrell Jackson made the original FOIA request over 2 weeks ago. Did Peter Corbett do his story on the back of Darrell Jackson? Isn’t it weirdly coincidental that 2 reporters made the same FOIA request? Even more interesting is who tipped them off to the Sherwood email and why? What was the source’s motive for doing so? Situational ethics once again.

As for journalistic standards…hah…that’s like the pot calling the kettle black. Arizona Republic readers have complained about the perceived bias in this paper’s stories for years; to the point that it has become legendary.   Paul Giblin’s outrage is much ado about nothing. More situational ethics.

© 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.

The reaction to my blog on “Staying quiet in Glendale” hit a nerve with many readers. I received numerous emails from citizens and Glendale employees, past and present. Today’s a good day to round up all the speculative commentary received over the past few months and share.  There were several comments on Glendale’s current environment such as “’Being Quiet in Glendale’ hit the nail on the head!” or ”… not much had changed since Beasley has left….everyone still walking on eggshells and no trust…” Some commenters said the practice of reporting any interaction with councilmembers continues to this day. The general reaction was sympathetic to the four employees that either resigned or were terminated and that Mr. Bolton did not get a fair hearing. Many expressed the sentiment, if it is “so easy to get rid of the ‘good guys’ everyone’s in trouble.”

It also opened up much commentary on other Glendale related issues. Word is out there that we can expect Julie Frisoni’s appointment as Interim Assistant City Manager to become permanent any day.  Many of those commenting pointed out that Frisoni does not meet the minimum necessary qualifications for the position which mandate at least a Masters Degree in Business Administration or Public Administration. Another commenter shared that the very first action by the new City Manager Brenda Fischer was to have a video made about herself by…you guessed it…Julie Frisoni’s department. Several said Jamsheed Mehta is no longer an Interim Assistant City Manager and has been relegated back to his previous duties as Executive Director of Transportation. Hmmm…someone well qualified is shoved to the back of the bus.

Have you ever heard of a “cop card?” Me neither. Apparently it can be used to get out of a speeding ticket in Glendale. Rumor has it that one or two councilmembers could actually possess this “cop card.”

Did you know that City Manager Brenda Fischer’s husband was a firefighter in Henderson, Nevada (he may still hold that position)? Watch for Fischer to recommend making whole firefighters’ overtime pay – not straight time pay but overtime pay. FYI: while the Glendale Police Department has been cut by 16% over the past few years, the fire department’s cuts have come in at considerably less, only 8%.

Lastly, I was sent an article published by the Wall Street Journal on November 1, 2013 entitled Cities revival curbed by red-ink budgets by Jerry A. Dicolo and Cameron McWhirter. It said, in part, “New Orleans was one of five cities among the nation’s largest 250 that in 2012 faced a situation known in municipal finance as a ‘negative fund balance,’ according to data provided to the Wall Street Journal from Merritt Research Services, LLC. The others dealing with the issue, which means at the time the figure was reported, liabilities outweighed assets, were Allentown, PA, Providence, R.I., Glendale, AZ, and Detroit. Data on a few cities weren’t available as of August, 2013, when Merritt collected the information.Credit rating firms consider the metric a sign of a serious structural budget problem. In 2007, before the recession hit, Detroit was the only city with such an imbalance, the figures show. Glendale officials said a new sales tax is expected to generate more revenue and shore up its budget.” The Journal published a graph representing figures from August, 2013 depicting the 10 cities nationally with the lowest reserves (General Fund balance). Here they are in descending order:

  1. Detroit, Mich                     -27%  ( minus reflects negative fund balance to expenditures)
  2. Glendale, Ariz                   -21.2%
  3. Providence, R.I.                –  3.4%
  4. New Orleans, La               –   1.8%
  5. Allentown, Pa                   –  0.90%
  6. Paterson, N.J.                  +  0.07% (plus reflects positive fund balance to expenditures)
  7. New York, N.Y.                 + 0.72%
  8. New Haven, Conn             +   1.7%
  9. Bridgeport, Conn              +   2.4%
  10. Philadelphia, Pa                +   2.7%

In an article by the Arizona Republic dated October 31, 2013 entitled Challenges abound as cities climb out of financial holes by Parker Leavitt. It says, “Glendale’s general-fund reserves fell 143 percent over five years, ending fiscal 2012 with a $26.5 million negative balance, according to financial reports. Payments to the National Hockey League for Phoenix Coyotes operating losses led to significant declines in Glendale’s reserve funds in 2011 and 2012, according to a Moody’s credit report.” Obviously Glendale has significant financial problems. This council continues to spend money the city does not have.

Council has taken actions that were not budgeted in the current Fiscal Year 2013-14 budget: an external audit costing over a half million dollars; the Beacon Request for Proposal for the Arena (never used) costing over $100K; or the biggie, an additional $9M for the arena management fee (that will never be covered in total by the “enhanced revenue fees” promised by IceArizona); or the employee Christmas vacation time costing over $1M dollars. It adds up to approximately another $2M unbudgeted that will have to come from other departments…except for fire, I guess.

In upcoming budget workshops for Fiscal Year 2014-15 council must consider making substantial cuts of approximately $9M and additional cuts of about $5M a year for the next several years. The temporary sales tax increase is due to expire in 2017. There is already talk that the City Manager will recommend that the temporary sales tax increase become permanent. That is not what I, as a former councilmember, or the voters expect. The voter approved proposition mandates that it disappear in 2017 and that is what we demand. Every citizen should be on alert. If you have the time and inclination please watch when city council takes up the budget in March of 2014. I will be watching…will you?

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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Coyotes failed at failing

Posted by Joyce Clark on September 29, 2013
Posted in City of Glendale  | Tagged With: , , , , , | 12 Comments

There is a really good piece on the Coyotes in the September 29, 2013 Arizona Republic by Sarah McLellan entitled Put the excuses on ice. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/sports/coyotes/articles/20130928new-ownership-solid-core-mean-phoenix-coyotes-must-step-up.html .

Ms. McLellan has been perhaps the only reporter covering the Coyotes who remained unbiased and reported on them impartially throughout the entire 4 year saga of seeking an owner for the team. As she looks to the Coyotes’ future she makes some excellent observations. Among them, “The Coyotes just believed they needed the presence of ownership to get there (Stanley Cup). And now that they have that, it’s time to prove they can be better.” Or, “That challenge should bring pressure. This is a new era for the organization, one without the safety net of low expectations and ready-made excuses for failure.” She’s right. For the past four years the team could always point to ownership uncertainty as a reason for not quite getting beyond the next level. That mind set is no longer relevant. They will stand or fall based upon their cohesiveness and talents as a team. As Tippett says, “You have to build a core to continue the identity of that team to see if you can push it as far as you can.” Don Maloney and Dave Tippett, magicians that they are, have done exactly that.

As McLellan says, the ownership limbo “masked the pitfalls of a bargain-basement budget…” The new owners, IceArizona, have to date shown their willingness to revitalize this team and this franchise. That commitment will continue to require a steep price tag over the next few years by renewing contracts of their core players so that as Maloney and Tippett have said it does not remain a team continually in flux. Their current advertising campaign, “Hungrier than ever,” is good. While it connects with the fan base steeped in the team’s history, it misses the mark in connecting emotionally with new fans. Retaining a family friendly atmosphere at the arena that does not require highly visible boobs ala the Jerry Moyes era or young ladies cleaning ice and getting new concessionaires with better fare and prices that do not sky-rocket into the stratosphere are backbone components that will help to attract new fans, especially families. The other traditional sports, baseball, basketball and football offer ticket prices, with the exception of their occasional promotions, that do little to encourage continual and regular family participation. Yet it obviously will be family participation grows the next generation of hockey fans.

Ms. McLellan’s observation that the excuse of lack of ownership can be relied upon for the team’s quality of play coupled with ownership uncertainty are gone for good. As Sarah McLellan says, “The Coyotes failed at failing.” Now they must succeed at winning.

©Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE
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 Law 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.

On Tuesday, September 17, 2013 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill sponsored by U.S. Representative Trent Franks that would prohibit new casinos (including the proposed Tohono O’odham casino in Glendale) in the Phoenix Metro area until 2027. This is Franks’ second bill on the issue as the first was never taken up for a vote in the Senate. Word is that this time around there is support in the Senate for such an effort. Many thanks to Representative Franks for his continued effort to stem the Tohono O’odham’s ambitions.

This story is barely a blip on the radar screen of news coverage of the Arizona Republic for September 18, 2013 where it made maybe 2 inches of copy (less than 100 words) on page 3 of the Valley and State section. In other words, they buried it. Could it be because it doesn’t fit their agenda of support for the proposed casino? Yet the Arizona Daily Star gave the same subject far more coverage (over 500 words).

As long as the subject is, in part, media bias, take a look at the one-eighty the Republic has done on Coyotes’ coverage. During the 4 year saga of uncertainty about the team’s ownership it was hard pressed to say anything positive about the situation or the team. The only reporter that is to be commended for offering justice in Coyotes’ coverage is Sarah McLellan. Now that ownership is finalized and buying advertising space in the Republic the reporting of the team has gotten more space and become more positive. It’s the almighty dollar at work.

And what’s with the team owner’s choice of KTAR as its radio partner? This station is home to Dan Bickley whose coverage of the Coyotes was oft times less than positive. The reason given for choosing KTAR was its wide audience yet its ratings are virtually identical to many other Valley radio stations including NBC Sports Radio. Why wasn’t a station like NBC Sports Radio chosen?  One of their premier shows is the Roc and Manuch Show. Roc and Manuch have a demonstrated track record of support for the Coyotes. When everyone else doubted they carried the torch for the Coyotes. One would think you would support the one who brought you to the dance but this choice is probably ruled by money as well.

©Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE
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.

Stories about Glendale keep popping up like daisies. The Arizona Republic takes positive glee in reporting negativism witness 2 hits on August 30, 2013. Paul Giblin did a story on the fall out of senior staff in the wake of the external audit and Laurie Roberts takes a pot shot at elected officials. Horatio Skeete, former Assistant City Manager, has been fired and Sherry Schurhammer, former Executive Director of Finance, has resigned. So the pound of flesh sought has been realized.  Make no mistake; they should not be absolved for they carried out the City Manager’s direction. Its’ similar, although not nearly as grievous, to those in Nazi Germany who either carried out Hitler’s directives or did not protest them. The reasons for silence in both instances were similar – fear of serious retribution. But they did not order the direction taken. Will those ultimately responsible be held accountable?

Laurie Roberts casts a wider net and accuses city council of mismanagement saying, “The mismanagement in that place apparently knows no bounds…” Mismanagement is defined as the exercise of executive, administrative and supervisory direction. How could council have given direction when senior staff conspired to hide the truth on actions it had taken by not advising council of the facts? If she had read the external audit thoroughly she would have read on page 19 of the report, “From the onset of the ERP, City Management and staff failed to keep the City Council appropriately informed, at times misled them and/or provided incorrect information. Under the previous administration, City staff was hindered and/or prohibited from providing valuable information to the City Council.”

The news media also reported that former Glendale City Attorney, Craig Tindall, has been hired as General Counsel for IceArizona, the new owners of the Coyotes. This development is not so surprising. Mr. Tindall was intimately involved in all of the arena management deals council considered.   I had several telephone conversations with Mr. Tindall during negotiations of various arena management deals over 4 years. I am sure others on council had similar conversations. There was one conversation in particular that stuck in my memory. I did not record it. I did not take notes but it was unusual enough that I remember the gist of it. During the course of the Jamison negotiations, Mr. Tindall alluded that he had been contacted by other, serious buyers of the team and if the Jamison deal fell through there were others waiting in the wings. It is not hard to imagine one buyer could have been Anthony LeBlanc. Mr. Tindall never named anyone. What did Mr. Tindall share with these other serious buyers that was not privileged or confidential information about contract negotiations? We’ll never know but it appears that some of these serious buyers could have been grateful.

To the news media Glendale has turned into the entrée of the day. Slow news day? I can hear it now. Editor: Geez, there’s not much happening right now. Let’s have Giblin write another story about Glendale. Problem solved. You can tell when it’s a slow news day – just look for a regurgitated story about Glendale. They have created a daisy chain of stories about Glendale, day after day, citing the same information over and over and over again.

I’ll be blogging again after Labor Day.

©Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE
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In the May 13, 2013 edition of the Arizona Republic there is an Opinion piece written by Doug Maceachern. He doesn’t pull any punches in characterizing Ned Norris Jr.’s actions regarding putting a casino in Glendale. I find it fascinating that the Arizona Republic, whose bias is clearly in favor of the Tohono O’odham, allowed his opinion piece to see the printed light-of day.

Ned Norris Jr Tohono O'odham Nation Chairman

Chairman Ned Norris Jr.

DianeEnos Pres Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community

Diane Enos
Chairperson Salt River Pima
Maricopa Community

Maceachern states what many have thought or said quietly among themselves and that is Ned Norris Jr., Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, deceived and cheated his sister Tribes. Only recently have the Gila River Community and the Salt River-Maricopa-Pima Community been willing to state the very same thing publicly.

No matter what way this is sliced, Norris, as the spokesperson for the TO, spoke publicly and often in favor of the Gaming Compact proposition approved by voters in 2002. All the while, he and a select few TO were secretly planning to acquire land in the Phoenix area. In fact, their secret notes from 2002 indicate that their consultant advised them a site in Buckeye was too far away (Buckeye dodged the bullet). Norris and crew must have been rejoicing (secretly).

There’s an old saying that goes something like, “white man speak with fork-ed tongue.” This time the tables are turned. Norris and the Tohono O’odham spoke with fork-ed tongue—not only to the white men but even worse, to their brothers and sisters of all of the Arizona Tribes. Before the proposed compact ever was presented to the voters all of the tribes negotiated among themselves for several years. Not once did Norris or the TO reps bring this issue forward to the sister Tribes. Not once when Norris spoke publicly did he disagree with the proposed compact or clarify what this proposal meant to the TO. Not once did Norris say we reserve the right to buy land, place it in trust and build a casino on it in the Phoenix metro area.

Never, ever again will the Tribes trust what Norris and the TO say. Their bond of trust is broken irrevocably. Why should Glendale or any other Valley community trust them? They shouldn’t. What happens when the TO buys more land in the Valley – in Phoenix, or Gilbert, or Paradise Valley – and turns it into more trust land for the purposes of putting a casino in their communities??? It could happen.

Here is the article in its entirety:

Arizona Republic, May 19, 2013

Opinions

Tohono leader’s victim act bit much by Doug Maceachern

Like egoists throughout eternity, Ned Norris Jr., chairman of southern Arizona’s Tohono O’odham Nation, wants things both ways.

In fact, if there were three ways to have it, Norris would want it three ways. Or four.

It looks likely that Norris will get his casino near Glendale, And Norris is gloating.  And playing victim.

It’s a real juggling act. And Norris is an adept juggler, especially of words. That fellow who gave us “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is” has nothing on Ned Norris.

On May 7, U.S. District Judge David Campbell became the latest in a long line of federal judges to rule in the Tohono O’odham’s favor.

The gaming compacts signed in 2002 and 2003 – the ones promoted prior to the November 2002 elections as line-in-the-sand assurances that gaming in the Phoenix area would be limited to existing casinos on existing tribal lands — simply do not say anything about forbidding the constructions of an eighth tribal casino. Or a ninth. Or more.

It has been observed many times since Norris’ astonishing announcement a few years ago of his well-laid plans to build a casino palace in Glendale. Who knew?

Who knew in 2002 that the tribal compacts said zip about limiting the number of casinos in the Valley?

As Campbell wrote: “Written agreements matter.”

“Parties who reach an accord, particularly on a matter as important and complicated as tribal gaming, carefully document their agreement in writing.”

If that sounded like an insult to the compact authors, it shouldn’t be. As noted, who knew?

Who knew tribal leaders whose land extends to the Mexican border would suddenly announce that (A) they secretly owned land near Glendale; (B) they were in negotiations with the Interior Department to have the land magically transformed into trust land; and (C) there wasn’t a damned thing anyone could do to stop them from building a compact-approved new Tohono O’odham casino on their own trust land.

It comes down to this. The writers of the compacts simply did not anticipate new tribal trust land popping up out of thin air in the middle of the urban metropolis.

State compact negotiators focused on limiting the number of casinos by limiting the number of casinos allocated to each tribe. It seemed rational. The Phoenix-area tribes already had maxed out on the number of casinos they could operate. Ipso facto, no new casinos, at least for the 20-year life span of the compacts. Right?

Wrong. The Tohono O’odhams had not maxed out on their allocation. They will be able to put at least one casino, and possibly more, wherever the tribe has trust land. And recent history tells us that can be anywhere.

It’s a clever thing Ned Norris has pulled off. Even his most bitter opponents in their intertribal struggle over gambling-market share have acknowledged the infuriating cleverness of it all.

But now, Norris is pouring salt in the wounds of his opponents, playing the sensitive, unfairly attacked, wounded soul. It’s a bit much.

Norris is bent out of shape over the name of a bill sponsored in Congress by U.S. Rep. Trent Franks that is designed to block construction of his new casino. It’s called the “Keep the Promise Act of 2013,” a clear reference to the “no-new-casinos promise” made repeatedly during the 2002 campaign to give then-Gov. Jane Dee Hull authority to negotiate compacts.

“The title of this legislation suggests that I and my people are liars and cheats,” said Norris, who added that he found it “deeply offensive.”

Well. Cheeky.

Cheeky, first and foremost, to drag his people into the debate. Notes unearthed during the course of a lawsuit filed by Phoenix-area tribes against Ned’s Gambit clearly depict tribal leaders going to great lengths to keep the scheme hush-hush from all but a small circle.

But cheeky, too, to pretend to be “deeply offended.”

Norris is acting in the role of a predatory CEO out to take market share from his competitors. He is Gordon Gekko made real.

In the process, Norris has stigmatized the Gila River Indian Community and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian community — his chief competitors in the market-share fight – as “wealthy interest in the Phoenix area.”

In olden days, before the lure of Sun City West matrons running slots in a Norris-built casino, those “wealthy interests” would be his brothers and sisters. How money does change it all.

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