It has been 18 years and 90 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.
In Paul Giblin’s March 4, 2016 Arizona Republic story about Councilmember Chavira he wrote: “Concerning the California trips, Chavira noted in expense records that the purpose for a trip to Montebello, Calif., in November 2015 was ‘Economic Development-grid projects & special events in CA.’
“He wrote that the reason for a trip to West Covina, Calif., in October 2015 was ‘Light Rail and bring LA restaurant to CB Ranch in CA,’ a reference to Glendale’s spring-training park Camelback Ranch.
“In his email to The Republic, Chavira stated that the trips combined multiple opportunities.
“‘I met with the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), which is an excellent model for innovation and entrepreneurship that I hope to implement in Glendale. Additionally, these two trips involved meetings with a number of political and sports-world leaders concerning the possibility of partnerships back home in Glendale,’ he stated.
“Chavira did not include names of business, political and sports leaders with whom he met. Officials with the clean-tech concern did not return messages about the matter.
“The October 2015 trip followed an introduction Chavira facilitated between Glendale resident Luis De La Cruz and officials at Glendale’s spring-training stadium.
“De La Cruz is the majority owner of Manuel’s Original El Tepeyac Café, a Los Angeles restaurant known for its five-pound burrito. During the meeting, De La Cruz proposed the idea of El Tepeyac selling items at Camelback Ranch stadium, according to De La Cruz and stadium President Jeff Overton.
“The group met at Camelback Ranch on Sept. 1, 2015, but no deals were struck. In October, Chavira sampled the food at El Tepeyac in Los Angeles and De La Cruz introduced him to officials at the clean-tech incubator, De La Cruz said in an interview.
“The Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox play spring-training games at Camelback Ranch.
Brian Friedman, the city’s economic-development director, said he did not accompany Chavira on the trips and that the councilman didn’t coordinate with him about them. Friedman said he is unfamiliar with the term ‘grid projects.’ “ Here is the link to Giblin’s entire article: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/03/04/glendale-councilman-sammy-chavira-charges-24k-trips-3-years-taxpayers/78857734/ .
There’s more to the Luis De La Cruz and Chavira connection. In Chavira’s 2012 run for his council seat Luis De La Cruz co-hosted a $100 a person fundraiser at Bitzee Mama’s for Sammy. They appear to have been friends since at least 2012 when the fundraiser occurred. De La Cruz, in addition to being a majority owner of El Tepeyac Café is also a director of Andale Construction located in Buckeye and Andale Towers located in Phoenix. Chavira seems to aspire running with those who have money and lots of it.
Chavira offered Giblin no back up information for his California trip other than a rather general statement of creating partnerships. Could he have been there for another purpose? As Giblin reports Chavira did not offer specific information on who he met on this trip. Why travel to California to see a man who lives in Glendale? There has been unsubstantiated speculation that Sammy may have taken this trip primarily to attend a sporting event. Who knows?
Chavira’s explanation for all of his questionable trips to Washington, D.C. and to California was that he was there on city business as well. To the general public it appears that Sammy went on “fun” trips such as seeing Pope Francis on a big screen TV and attending his buddy’s, Ruben Gallego, installation as a Congressman and then to cover his butt made the assertion that he also attended meetings to benefit Glendale. No one is buying his explanation. No one, not the Mayor or other councilmembers have behaved in this fashion.
More troubling is Sammy’s habit and pattern of repaying “favors” to large benefactors supporting his run for office. Is it coincidence that Mark Becker of Becker Billboards made a substantial contribution to Sammy’s campaign and Sammy supported Becker’s request for billboards in north Glendale during, at the very least, one council meeting? Is it coincidence that an attorney for IceArizona made several hundred dollars in contributions to Sammy’s campaign and then Sammy voted for the deal even though he ran on a platform of no more bad (financial) deals for Glendale? Apparently he didn’t think Glendale’s payment of $15 million a year to IceArizona as a management fee was a bad deal. He did not support the canceling of IceArizona’s contract with the city and did not support the city’s issuance of a request for bids to manage the city’s arena.
In response to reading Paul Giblin’s report on Chavira’s trips A Letter to the Editor written by Ron Myers, Constable at Arrowhead Justice Precinct was published. Here is the full text:
“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.”
— Ron Myers, constable
Arrowhead Justice Precinct
Chavira’s ethics while serving as an elected official have called into question his fitness to serve. From all appearances he has done “favors” for those who supported him substantially in his run for council. Current news reports question Chavira’s abuse of Glendale’s citizens’ trust by using taxpayer dollars to fund his jaunts. Hopefully the current city council will institute policy to oversee their use of taxpayer dollars for travel. Disappointingly it appears that some councilmembers believe that Sammy “did nothing wrong.” If that is true, perhaps it will call into question their ethical decision making skills as well.
© Joyce Clark, 2016
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