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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

When a politician or someone of note has a story about him or her on a Friday, he or she should thank the news media profusely. The general thinking is that a story run on a Friday before a weekend when readers are preoccupied by weekend fun will be rapidly forgotten. It’s a ploy that has been used for years. This time it may not work as well as expected. This story will not fade away and will continue to smolder much like a hay fire burning itself out.

Paul Giblin and Craig Harris wrote a piece in the Friday, January 31, 2014 edition of the Arizona Republic relating possible ethics violations by former Glendale City Attorney Craig Tindall entitled “Ethics questions hit ex-Glendale city attorney.” It relates that Tindall attempted to solicit a state income tax credit for his son’s tuition at a private school. He used a city computer to do so. Reportedly he sent his solicitation to at least 40 people. They included:

  • Former City Manager Ed Beasley
  • Former Deputy City Manager Art Lynch
  • Fire Chief Mark Burdick
  • Current Interim Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni
  • Lobbyist Gary Husk (who recently received probation and community service from the court)
  • Chip Scutari, public relations
  • Lynne Greene, Renaissance Hotel General Manager
  • Peter Sullivan, University of Phoenix executive
  • Jim Foss, Jobing.com  executive
  • Attorney Aaron Cain, Fennemore Craig
  • Attorney Andrew Federhar, Fennemore Craig
  • Attorney Sharon Oscar, Fennemore Craig
  • Attorney Cathy Reece, Fennemore Craig
  • Attorney Sarah Strunk, Fennemore Craig
  • Attorney Christian Beams, Ryley Carlock & Applewhite
  • Attorney Michael Moberly, Ryley Carlock & Applewhite
  • Attorney William Wilder, Ryley Carlock & Applewhite
  • Attorney Former U.S. Rep. John Shadegg, Steptoe & Johnson
  • Attorney Jordan Rose, Rose Law Group
  • Attorney Nicholas Wood, Snell & Wilmer
  • Former Coyotes owner, Steve Ellman
  • Coyotes President Mike Nealy
  • John MacDonald and his wife, Dana Paschke, lobbyists for Glendale
  • Former U.S. Attorney for Arizona Jose de Jesus Rivera, Haralson, Miller, Pitt, Feldman & McAnally

Obviously this is not a complete list. Tindall contends that he was doing a public service by providing information about the state income tax credit for school tuition yet reportedly he happened to mention his son as a possible recipient several times in his “informational emailing.”

You should have problems with his actions if for no other reason than he used a city computer to send what was essentially a personal message/solicitation. One of the first “no-nos” that every city employee learns is that the city equipment, including use of a city computer is for city business only. Tindall and members of his staff taught city ethics to various employee groups and would be very conversant with this restriction.

Hackles should go up at the thought that his very selective recipient list included a lot of people with which Glendale did business. They were put in an awkward position. Would their non-responsiveness hurt them in securing further business from the city? Would their support garner them further business with the city?

Jose de Jesus Rivera, one of Tindall’s email recipients, just happened to secure the contract to conduct the external audit at a cost of over half a million dollars and in one Rivera email response even asked if the RFP for the contract had been released.  Hmmm.

Tindall’s questionable action serves to highlight the web of relationships within the City of Glendale before Ed Beasley’s retirement. Lynch, Burdick and Frisoni were all confidants of former City Manager Ed Beasley. Some of these people had no problem supporting Tindall in his quest to become Interim City Manager by trashing former Assistant City Manager Horatio Skeete who prevailed in securing the job.

It leads to another troubling issue regarding Tindall’s employment. From 2009 until IceArizona’s successful bid to secure the Jobing.com arena management contract Tindall was the city’s attorney. He was privy to the nuances of EVERY deal that came before the city. When he left city employ he spent a brief month at a private law firm before being hired as General Counsel for none other than…can you guess? IceArizona! Several people, including former Councilmember Phil Lieberman, have questioned whether his extensive insider knowledge led to the demise of the Greg Jamison bid and the success of IceArizona. Who knows? We may find out someday…but that “someday” could be just a smidge closer. Lieberman filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s office about the propriety of Tindall’s dual employment for several months continuing to advise the city while being employed by IceArizona. We will have to wait and see if it comes of anything but I’m not holding my breath on this one.

The media’s reporting of Tindall’s problematic judgment and self-serving actions brings into question everything he did, every decision that he made during his years as City Attorney. One that comes to mind is his decision to reject just enough voter ballots in the Goulette-Bohart contest for the Ocotillo council district seat resulting in Goulette’s victory. Or his decision to release the audit information about the city’s trust funds at the very same time he was vying to become Interim City Manager should give you pause. Or the extent of his involvement with pro-sales tax increase groups working to defeat the citizen initiative driven election to kill the temporary sales tax increase?

Tindall was viewed as smart, pleasant and competent by some but as the layers begin to fall away we may begin to see a different view…one not so smart, pleasant and competent.

I will be releasing another blog later today with some other interesting tidbits that have been passed on to me as well as the latest Bidwill blast.

I have posted a new, informal poll about Tindall to the left of this column and as usual, if you would like to know when my next blog is posted you can sign up via an email alert to the right of this column. 65% of the responses to my last poll regarding the health of Glendale’s finances said they did not believe that Glendale could straighten out its financial mess.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

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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

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.

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

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.

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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