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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Disclaimer: The comments in the blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On Tuesday, February 7, 2017, at the regular city council workshop the issue of chickens in Glendale was discussed…again. Based upon city councilmember comments, just as the issue divided the city, it also divided the city council.

Mayor Weiers, Councilmember Malnar and Councilmember Tolmachoff indicated that they did not support allowing chickens in every residential zoning district (multi-family was not part of the proposal). Mayor Weiers felt it was a matter of choice and that if residents wanted to have chickens then they should locate in zoning districts that already allow chickens. He indicated that he and his wife moved knowingly into an area where chickens were allowed but that it was their choice. Councilmember Ray Malnar, reviewed his childhood history of living on a farm that had 300 chickens. His overarching conviction is that his mandate is to represent his constituents who, in the majority, oppose chickens and expressed his opposition to the proposal. Councilmember Tolmachoff, also expressed the majority opinion of her constituency as well as her concern that HOAs would have a major problem if they needed to expressly amend their by-laws.

Vice Mayor Hugh, Councilmember Turner and Councilmember Aldama expressed their support for the proposal. Again, all expressed their positions in terms of representing the majority sentiments of their constituencies. While Vice Mayor Hugh was mainly silent on the issue, Councilmembers Turner and Aldama were not. Councilmember Turner framed it as a question of liberty and property rights and that everyone should be free to do on their property what they wished without government interference. Councilmember Aldama acknowledged the many citizens in his district already have chickens and probably have had them for years.

The battle lines were drawn and that left me. My district is so diverse and I discovered my constituency to be divided, just as the city and the city council. I sought compromise. I sought compromise believing that if it did not totally please both sides it would be a good one.  I prefaced my compromise proposal with these remarks.

  • This is an issue that should never have risen to this level. This matter began as a neighbor dispute that might have been resolved by arbitration or mediation. Over the past year the city has expended a lot of manpower and resources to resolve an issue that should never have been brought forward.
  • For thousands of years man domesticated animals for food or to assist in the production of food. Today with our society’s abundance of leisure time and resources there has become the propensity to anthropomorphize animals and we have created new classes of pets. I consider dogs and cats, as well as a few small mammals as pets. Chickens are not pets. They are classed in every municipal jurisdiction as fowl or poultry.
  • This issue has become a polite civil war with half the people opposed to chickens and half supporting them. Quite frankly if the issue had not arisen, people who had chickens would continue to have them and those who do not want chickens would never have been the wiser. Now, city council is asked to become Solomon to resolve an issue that no matter what the outcome, half of the community will be angry with the result.
  • But deciding the issue is not as simple as deciding based on numbers on petitions. As councilmembers we must also consider what is in the best interest of Glendale as a whole.

I proposed:

  •  Expansion of chickens as a permissible use to one zoning district, R1-10 and the following will apply only to R 1-10 and M-1 (to satisfy Councilmember Aldama’s desire to include the Sonorita area which is mainly M-1). Existent code to apply to all zoning districts that currently allow chickens
  • Hens only, no roosters
  • Limit of 5 chickens
  • Must have a coop or structure to contain chickens
  • Not allowed in front yards
  • Rear yard must be fenced
  • Structure height limited to no more than 4 feet
  • Structure must meet side and rear yard setbacks of 20 feet
  • Structure must be at least 40 feet from residence as well as any immediately adjacent neighboring residence
  • Structure must be 80 feet away from any school, hotel, restaurant or building containing sleeping or dining accommodations
  • HOA regulations take precedence over city code on this issue
  • Chickens will no longer be classified as livestock but rather as poultry or fowl
  • Chickens will not be classified as pets
  • No matter the size of the lot, chickens will not be permitted at townhouses, apartments, condos or any other type of attached residence
  • Zoning codes already in place regarding chickens are not to be changed

I was hopeful that a compromise could be achieved. I did not think that those who opposed     the ordinance in any form would consider a compromise. I assumed it would depend on Vice Mayor Hugh and Councilmembers Turner and Aldama to decide if compromise was a viable option for them. Vice Mayor Hugh indicated that he could support a compromise and I thank him for his consideration of it. However, Councilmembers Turner and Aldama simply could not accept it.

That left me with no choice for I knew that I could not support expansion of chickens to all residential zoning districts, especially the very small lot sizes of 4,000 or 6,000 square feet. Urban life is too dense to introduce a new possibility of backyard chickens when many homes are only 5 to 10 feet apart. Current residents as well as possible new residents do not move into dense neighborhoods with the sudden and unanticipated realization that they will have to contend with a neighbor’s chickens. To introduce chickens into thousands upon thousands of urban life-style properties seems inherently imprudent.

If there was to be no compromise I could not in good conscience support allowing chickens in every residential zoning district in Glendale. I joined with Mayor Weiers and Councilmembers Malnar and Tolmachoff to form a consensus of 4 (council does not vote at a workshop meeting) to not move forward with such an ordinance.

Does that mean the chicken issue is dead?  Maybe and maybe not. Planning Director Jon Froke said that a resident or residents could file an appeal after paying a $4,000 fee to file. It would then go before the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council once again. I asked if an Initiative Petition with the requisite number of valid voters’ signatures could be filed. Mr. Froke’s answer was yes. It would then be placed on the ballot for the next Glendale election. Is there enough commitment and support on either side of this issue to follow through on either of these options? I don’t know but I guess we will all find out.

© Joyce Clark, 2017          

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.

No contest of the formally accepted final election results has been filed by either of the losing candidates within the 5 day time limit as stipulated by state law. Now, let’s see some loose ends cleaned up. Sammy still has campaign signs up, well past the proscribed 15 day limit. Sammy, take your campaign signs down. You are not above the law.

In August of 2016, Mark Burdick, former Glendale mayoral candidate, sent out a campaign mailer without the disclaimer, “Paid for by …” as is required by state law. Arizona State Statute 16-912 says, “A political committee that makes an expenditure for campaign literature or advertisements that expressly advocate the election or defeat of any candidate or that make any solicitation of contributions to any political committee shall include on the literature or advertisement the words ‘paid for by,’ followed by the name of the committee that appears on its statement of organization, or five hundred dollar exemption statement.” Burdick publicly admitted the omission of this required disclaimer.

In mid-August, City Clerk Julie Bower notified City Attorney Michael Bailey of a violation of ARS 16-912(A.) Bailey had said that he received the City Clerk’s notice and had taken action by shipping the complaint to an outside counsel, namely the Scottsdale City Attorney.

This is a cut and dried situation. Burdick sent out a campaign mailer without the legally required disclaimer. Burdick admitted that it had occurred. So, what’s the problem? Why the delay? It has been over a month. We should have been made publicly aware of the fine imposed upon Burdick and that it has been paid. Instead…silence.

On or about August 17th the City Clerk requested that Burdick provide the cost of producing and mailing the piece. The fine is 3 times the amount spent for production (includes the consultant’s time for designing the piece) and mailing. Since it was mailed to voters within all of Glendale the cost would be substantial. To mail a piece in my district (with perhaps one of the lowest active voter totals) is about $3,000. Multiply that times six districts and a conservative figure would be somewhere in the $15,000 to $18,000 range. Three times that cost puts Burdick’s fine in the neighborhood of $45,000 to $54,000.

Has the fine been assessed? Has Burdick paid the fine? Either the City Clerk or the City Attorney has the responsibility of public notification…for an action that should have been completed by now. It’s the city’s loose end and merits being tied up.

On another note city council met in workshop this afternoon. Councilmembers Jaime Aldama and Sammy Chavira were absent although Sammy did participate, sort of, telephonically. There were only 2 agenda items: 1. Costs associated with workmen’s’ compensation claims and 2. Proposed regulations for donation drop off boxes and permissible flagpole heights.

The presentation on item #1 generated no council comments or questions…not one. Item #2 generated a great deal of comment and questioning by councilmembers present. It holds true that councilmembers tend to spend more time and energy on issues that directly affect residents than on big picture issues. After nearly an hour of discussion council gave consensus to bring both items back with the request for further information related to how other Valley cities handle both issues. Upon advice of the City Attorney Bailey other “clean up” code/zoning items staff had been prepared to present to council were tabled due to insufficient notice to the public.

© 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.

CHECK OUT A VIDEO ABOUT SAMMY CHAVIRA’S USE OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS TO THE LEFT OF THIS COLUMN

It has been 18 years and 147 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

On March 3, 1953 a lovely, now historic, neighborhood was born in Glendale. It is known today as Historic Thunderbird Estates. This is a neighborhood of large lots, with mature trees and vegetation, many of which said properties still rely upon irrigation water.

The people who created this neighborhood lived in it for many, many years. Many of these people contributed a great deal to the rich history of Glendale. You may even recognize a few of the names. They were Philip and Bessie Rice, Opal and Earl Moore, Patsy Woods, Stanley and Gwendolyn McDonald, Ralph and Margaret Baskett, James and Sarah Sharpe, C.E. and Gladys McDonald, and Elias and Gaeta Coury.

Here are just a few of the accomplishments of the residents who formed Thunderbird Estates in the 1950’s. The Ira Moore building was used for Glendale Union high school’s very first classes. W. F. Moore was a Glendale councilmember from 1930-34. Willis Moore was on the Glendale Union High School’s first baseball championship team of 1923. R.E. Moore was manager of the Valley Bank, across from Murphy Park, in the 1940’s. Dr. Philip Rice was one of the very few medical doctors practicing in Glendale in the 1950’s. His wife Bess, was prominently involved with the Glendale Women’s Club and was known for her support of cleanup projects and tree planting throughout Glendale. The Coury family is remembered as prominent downtown Glendale merchants of the 1960’s with the Coury Market, also across the street from Murphy Park.

They created their Covenants, Codes and Restrictions (CC&Rs) for this historic neighborhood. Here is what they said and what they intended for this neighborhood …their land:

“The stipulations, restrictions and covenants herein contained shall be taken and considered as covenants irrevocable and restrictions running with the land, and with each and every part, parcel, lot and subdivision thereof, no made or hereafter to be made; and shall not only be binding upon the parties hereto, their respective successors and immediate assigns, but the same shall be binding upon each and every person, persons or corporation on who may hereafter become owners of or interested in said premises, or any part, parcel, lot or subdivision thereof, by or through conveyances, leases, permits or licenses, from or through any of the parties hereto.

“Further, all conveyances made by the parties hereto shall by apt words convey said lands and each and every parcel thereof, subject to the said restrictions and provisions. But in case such restrictions and provisions shall be omitted from any such deed or deeds, the same shall nevertheless be binding upon the grantee, his heirs and assigns, the same as though specially set forth in such deed or deeds and each and every such deed or deeds shall be taken by the grantee therein named subject to the covenants and provisions of this agreement.

“The stipulations, restrictions and covenants to which said premises are subjected are as follows, to- wit:

  1. Each parcel of land shall be used exclusively for residential purposes.”

There is nothing ambiguous about their words put to paper. We know exactly what their desire and intent was…to keep their land, in whole or in part, for residential use exclusively and in perpetuity. The residents of this subdivision have relied upon the CC&R’s for over 50 years.  When these residents purchased their parcels over the years they relied upon the character of their historic neighborhood to remain for residential use only.

Until Mr. Don Olson arrived upon the scene. For you see, Mr. Olson purchased one of the parcels within Historic Thunderbird Estates. He is using his newly acquired property within Historic Thunderbird Estates for commercial purposes – the sale of trees, big trees, little trees, all kinds of trees…and now he wants the city to grant him a Conditional Use Permit to bless his apparent violation of the Historic Thunderbird Estates CC&Rs.

5841 W. Royal Palm Glendale, AZ

5841 W. Royal Palm
Glendale, AZ

So what has the city done to protect this lovely, old, historic neighborhood?  On Thursday, May 5, 2016 Mr. Olson’s Conditional Use Permit request went before the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission is composed of citizens. The current members of the commission are : Chairperson Steve Johnston;  Vice Chairperson Arthur Dobbelaere;  Commissioner Jack Gallegos;  Commissioner Rick Harper; Commissioner Gary Hirsch, Commissioner Al Lenox; and Commissioner David Moreno. They would decide the fate of this historic neighborhood by making an advisory recommendation to the city council.

The minutes of the Planning Commission of May 5, 2016 reflect the following: “CUP16-01: A request by Don Olson for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to operate a home occupation (Class II) business in a private backyard of a residence, which will mainly consist of growing trees and selling trees to customers with appointments on a property in the SR-17 (Suburban Residence) Zoning District. The site is located north of the northeast corner of 59th and Northern Avenues (5841 West Royal Palm Road) and is in the Barrel District. Staff Contact: Martin Martell, Planner. VICE CHAIRPERSON DOBBELAERE MADE A MOTION TO CONTINUE CUP16-01 TO THE PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING OF AUGUST 4, 2016. COMMISSIONER GALLEGOS SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH WAS APPROVED WITH A VOTE OF 4 TO 3 (HIRSCH, HARPER, AND LENOX).

Mr. Olson requested that the item be tabled as apparently he has hired a zoning attorney to represent him when the CUP is heard on August 4, 2016. The motion to table was granted on a vote of 4-3 with only Commissioners Hirsch, Harper and Lenox willing to deny the motion to table the action and ready to decide the CUP without the benefit of Mr. Olson’s acquisition of yet another attorney…a  zoning attorney.

This neighborhood is upset, concerned and angry. They don’t have a slick, fancy, new homeowner’s association to protect their interests. As a historic neighborhood they must rely upon the city staff, the citizen planning commissioners and city council to protect them. This becomes more and more difficult as historic memory of what Glendale was and who contributed to shaping Glendale is forgotten by a younger generation.

Will they protect the legacy of Glendale or succumb to a commercialism that slowly eats away at older neighborhoods such as this one? This neighborhood hopes that it can be preserved  as do other historic neighborhoods in Glendale. If we don’t speak for them…if we do not value their legacy…then what is Glendale’s destiny? To become just another ‘burb in the Valley of the ‘burbs??

© 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 117 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

The city council meeting of April 12, 2016 had a lot of green shirts with the logo “Heroes Park –Finish It” in attendance. Citizen speakers spoke about the need to finish the park, long

Green shirts in city council chambers

Green shirts in city council chambers

overdue; about the density of homes in the proposed residential development south of the Grand Canal; and the need to reopen O’Neil Pool. City council did take notice and several spoke about the park during council comments. What were heard were platitudes. Some said there was recognition of the need to finish the park but none offered a solid commitment to make that happen. Others recognized the need for more parking at the park and punted saying that more temporary parking would be created when the temporary modular library branch was installed.

None of the non-solutions are satisfactory. That means the work of the citizen group led by Tom Traw of the Yucca district and Norma Alvarez of the Ocotillo district is not done. Continual pressure by the citizens’ group must continue. They will not succeed with a one day show of

O'Neil Pool abandoned

O’Neil Pool abandoned

citizen force. Pressure must be applied on the city council to allocate the money needed to complete this park.

Please contact Glendale’s city councilmembers at the email addresses listed below and tell them you want Heroes Park finished and it has been far too long.

  • Mayor Jerry Weiers at mayorweiers@glendaleaz.com
  • Vice Mayor Ian Hugh at ihugh@glendaleaz.com
  • Councilmember Bart Turner at bturner@glendaleaz.com
  • Councilmember Lauren Tolmachoff at ltolmachoff@glendaleaz.com
  • Councilmember Ray Malnar at rmalnar@glendaleaz.com
  • Councilmember Jamie Aldama at jaldama@glendaleaz.com
  • Councilmember Sammy Chavira at schavira@glendaleaz.com

Or call the city council assistants and leave a message for each councilmember:

  • Mayor Weiers office at 623-930-2260
  • An army

    An army

    Council assistant Ryan Lee for Councilmembers Turner and Tolmachoff at 623-930-2250

  • Council assistant Adam Maynes for Councilmembers Hugh and Aldama at 623-930-2878
  • Council assistant Van Ornelas for Councilmembers Malnar and Chavira at 623-930-2016

If, after 18 years, you want Heroes Park to be completed it requires your involvement. One tiny ant can’t do very much but an army of ants can move mountains. You need to become a member of the ant army and actively voice your support for the completion of this park.

© 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 71 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

The City of Glendale is hosting a meeting on Saturday, February 27, 2016 to receive citizen input on two proposals for a branch library serving west and south Glendale. Here is the link to the information about the meeting: http://www.glendaleaz.com/Library/WesternAreaBranchStudy.cfm . It will be an Open House at Desert Mirage Elementary School, 8500 W. Maryland Avenue, Glendale, AZ between 10 AM and Noon.

I am attending and I am telling them not just “no” but “hell no.” Why? For 18 years we, in west and south Glendale, have been promised not a make-shift facility but a full-fledged branch library. Senior staff and the city council would be off the hook by throwing us a bone– a make-shift facility. That removes the pressure on all of them to fulfill a long standing 18 year promise. What are we? Chopped liver? Is it only other areas of Glendale that receive the financial resources to provide high quality amenities for its citizens? By the way, have you checked out the ramadas at Heroes Park lately? They are really dirty and in need of major maintenance. But again…it’s west and south Glendale…not Arrowhead.

The most dismaying concern is that Assistant City Manager Tom Duensing was able to find General Fund debt capacity to cover a $32 million dollar bill for land and to develop parking adjacent to the University of Phoenix Stadium but he is reluctant (or stubborn?) to find General Fund debt capacity to fund the building of a west branch library promised over 18 years ago.

People are offended and angry. Some will say but this is better than nothing and we have had nothing for a very long time. What they do not realize is this token removes the pressure from staff and from council to ever build a permanent branch library. The next time a request is made for such a facility their rationalization will be but you do have a branch library. It’s not as if the need is pressing. There are other needs that take precedence.

I encourage people from the Yucca and Ocotillo districts to attend Saturday’s Open House and to tell staff that neither a token, symbolic library branch in the Media Center nor a small, modular building in Heroes Park fulfill Glendale’s promise to its residents. Let them know it’s time to fund the branch library promised over 18 years ago.

© 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 21 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

In 1990 Glendale’s population was approximately 151,449. Two years later, in 1992, Glendale implemented a full council district system of representation with 6 council districts of approximately equal populations. At that time each district would have had about 30,000 residents. The geographical size of the districts varied to accommodate equal population distribution.

A little history is in order. In the late 1970’s to mid 1980’s the Hunt brothers, billionaires from Texas, had acquired most of the land we know today as Arrowhead. They intended to master plan and develop the entire area. In support of their plan Glendale built a water treatment plant to accommodate the anticipated population growth. Disaster struck. The Hunt brothers attempted to corner the precious metals market, especially silver. Paul Volker, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, brought their scheme to an end and by the late 1980’s the brothers were convicted of manipulating the market.

What was Glendale to do? It had invested a great deal of money in a water treatment plant now sitting idle. It took on the task of master planning the area and investing millions in developing the infrastructure of the area while ignoring the needs of the rest of the city. It also reserved a substantial parcel of land for what would become Foothills Park. It paid the Hunt brothers for the water treatment plant it had built. In essence Glendale paid twice for the very same plant.

Developers began building homes in the area. With the mayor of Glendale residing in the Arrowhead area it didn’t take long for resources to flow into development of Foothills Park and within 8 years the area also had its branch library, the Foothills Library. In 1998 the Foothills Aquatic & Recreation Center and the Western Area Regional Park had been placed on the city’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP).

Southwest Heroes Park

Southwest Heroes Park

By 1998 the city has made a commitment to a Recreation & Aquatic Center in Foothills Park and the development of the Western Area Regional Park (known today at Heroes Park) with a branch library, its very own Recreation & Aquatic Center, baseball fields, an urban fishing lake, a dog park, ramadas, basketball courts and a skate area. By 2007 Foothills Park had its Recreation & Aquatic Center. What did the Western Area Regional Park have? It had $6 million dollars diverted from building its branch library to building the Public Safety Center. It had some basketball courts and a

Northeast Heroes Park

Northeast Heroes Park

zero splash pad. The skate area and ramadas were built after 2007. The skate area sits idle…vacant…growing tumbleweeds. The ramadas were built because they generate rental income. They are used heavily. Since its arrival in 1998 on the city’s CIP there is no branch library, no Recreation & Aquatic Center, no baseball fields, no urban fishing lake, and no dog park. Only 20 acres of the total park acreage of 88 acres has been developed.

Skate Court at Heroes Park

Skate Court at Heroes Park

Splash pad

Splash Pad at Heroes Park

Make no mistake…I am as mad as hell. Over the past 18 years there has been a deliberate and concerted agenda by previous city councils to ignore the development of this park. Today with the exception of Mayor Weiers and Councilmember Turner it remains ignored and neglected. Through Mayor Weiers effort to call attention to this park this year 83rd Avenue north of Bethany Home Road (the western boundary of the park) will see road improvements in the form of curb, gutter and sidewalk. A bone to be sure but it is something. At some point a modular building will be erected, one tenth the size of the planned branch library, to serve as this area’s library. Another bone to be sure.

Senior staff is also responsible. This park is not part of their agenda either. When the city very recently decided to buy the Pendergast land for $22 million dollars not surprisingly Tom Duensing, Interim

Ramadas at Heroes Park

Ramadas at Heroes Park

Assistant City Manager and Director of Finance, found the debt capacity to accomplish this purchase. When it comes to this park’s development he wrings his hands and says there is no money and no debt capacity. I call on him to be financially creative and to find a way to increase the city’s debt capacity to cause further development of this park. I call on this city council to make meaningful development of this park a priority. One sixth of the city’s population remains ill served without any of the amenities that can be found throughout the rest of the city. To this day only 20

In the shadow of the University of Phoenix Stadium at Heroes Park

In the shadow of the University of Phoenix Stadium at Heroes Park

acres of the total park acreage of 88 acres has been developed. It is a travesty, shameful and embarrassing that the city has a major, regional park three quarters of which grows tumbleweeds.

 

 

 

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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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 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 17 years and 309 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

PLEASE NOTE: SINCE THE INCEPTION OF MY BLOG I HAVE REACHED ANOTHER MILESTONE. AS OF NOVEMBER 4, 2015 THERE HAVE BEEN OVER 300,000 READS OF MY BLOGS. MY THANKS GOES OUT TO ALL WHO HAVE SIGNED UP TO RECEIVE THEM ON A REGULAR BASIS AND A SPECIAL THANKS TO ALL WHO HATE MY COMMENTARY BUT KEEP COMING BACK TO FIND OUT WHAT I AM SHARING ABOUT GLENDALE AND ITS PLAYERS.

On October 20, 2015 at city council workshop council was presented with a menu of city properties that could be sold. Amazingly, not one…let me repeat that, not one property was put on the block.

Cushman & Wakefield, the city’s consultant, proposed the possible sale of nine city owned facilities:

  • Water services lot at the northeast corner of 99th Avenue and Bethany Home Road for $7.5 million
  • Glen Lakes Golf Course at 54th Avenue and Northern Avenue for $5.2 million
  • Desert Mirage Golf Course at 87th Avenue and Maryland Avenue for $450,000
  • St. Vincent de Paul Thrift store in downtown Glendale for $300,000
  • Thunderbird Lounge and adjoining properties in downtown Glendale for $545,000 to $727,000
  • Bead Museum in downtown Glendale for $400,000 to $500,000
  • City Court site in downtown Glendale for $3 to $5 million
  • Bank of America building in downtown Glendale for $7.35 million

The only properties that can legitimately be taken off the sales block are the two golf courses. Desert Mirage Golf Course has long term contractual obligations that could prove problematical and Glen Lakes Golf Course land would be used for residential development that would violate a long standing commitment to every home owner surrounding the property. In addition, these two properties offer a genuine amenity to every Glendale resident.

So, why won’t council sell off any of the downtown properties? Well, we might use them sometime in the future…the very distant future. Or we can’t sell them because the sale price is less than the city paid originally. Reality…since the Great Recession, many properties nationally and regionally have sold for less than their purchase price.

Each of these properties, vacant or developed, have annual operating & maintenance (O&M) costs. What is the total annual O&M cost to the city for each of these properties? If they were sold the city would no longer have to pay the O&M costs in addition to receiving the purchase price.

The sale of these properties accomplishes several goals. It takes the annual O&M costs off the books permanently. It earns the city an estimated $20 million plus. These funds should go directly into the city’s Contingency Fund (Unappropriated Fund Balance).  That, in turn, would take pressure off of putting every available nickel in the General Fund into Contingency. It would create the opportunity to utilize General Funds for needs long ignored since the Great Recession.

The sale of these properties also creates a major benefit for downtown Glendale. How many Task Forces, over the years, have made recommendations for the revitalization of downtown Glendale? Too many, going all the way back to the Miracle Mile Citizen Task Force. What has been achieved as a result? Nothing. In one fell swoop, with the sale of these properties the city has the opportunity to kick start downtown’s revitalization. No one is going to buy a downtown property without plans to develop. That’s illogical. An investor in a downtown property expects a return on that investment and that can only occur with the development of the investment. The beneficial and productive use of these properties immediately will do more to revitalize downtown Glendale than the unanswered recommendations of another dozen Task Force groups.

It’s time for the city council to let go of these properties. There are genuine benefits to be achieved with their sale. In the meantime, as long as the council digs in its feet and refuses to sell anything, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell…interested?

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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It has been 17 years and 96 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

On March 25, 2015 the Glendale Star ran a story on the elimination of the city’s General Fund debt payable to the city’s Enterprise Funds (water, sewer, sanitation and landfill). Here is the link:  http://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_4fd7f4dc-d181-11e4-b56b-93c81bbb5cc5.html .

In an effort to buy additional time to secure a buyer for the NHL Coyotes who would pledge to keep the team at Glendale’s Gila River Arena, a previous city council approved borrowing $15 million from the city’s water and sewer funds, $40 million from its landfill fund and $5 million from its sanitation fund. The revenue was used to pay the NHL to manage the arena for two years while the process of finding a team buyer continued. At the time council also approved a repayment plan, using General Fund revenue to pay the Enterprise Funds back with interest. It was a solemn pledge and a commitment that the previous council never anticipated future councils would renege upon. The unthinkable is about to occur. At a recent workshop following the recommendation of Tom Duensing, Glendale’s Finance Director, a majority of council plans to do exactly that.

When Councilmember Tolmachoff asked what would be the consequences of such an action, Duensing replied, “You could do it a number of ways: you could do rate increases, you could defer maintenance, you could cut your operating costs.”

There were questions unasked that still demand answers:

  • While this action might make the general fund balance sheet look better, what impact does it have on the balance sheets of water and sewer, the landfill, and sanitation?
  • By recording the former “loan” to a fund transfer, doesn’t it reduce the assets on the balance sheets of those funds?
  • How does the reduction in financial assets impact the bond ratings of the water and sewer fund and the landfill fund?  While the proposed action may assist in the General Fund bond rating, doesn’t the converse action harm the Enterprise Funds ratings?
  • Doesn’t this action reduce the funds available to water and sewer for maintaining and upgrading the water and sewer systems? Duensing in his answer to Tolmachoff implies that it does.
  • If the Council approves this action, doesn’t that mean that a water and sewer rate increase will be necessary and supported by the Council? If a rate increase occurs, it looks like we can lay the evaporation of a pledge to repay the Enterprise Funds at the feet of retaining the hockey team as an anchor tenant at the city owned arena.

Duensing’s proposal is moving the pea underneath a different shell. It’s a magical, accounting trick designed to satisfy the rating agencies. The problem is that it sets precedent. Who, whether it’s a developer, a citizen or a company doing business with the city, will trust in the city’s word if it is willing to renege on paying a debt? If a water, sewer or landfill rate increase is proposed and adopted by this city council citizens will have every right to be angry for it will be driven by a broken promise to reimburse the Enterprise Funds. Glendale rate payers of the water, sewer, landfill and sanitation services will have every right to assume that any proposed rate increase is driven by money borrowed from these funds and paid to the NHL to run the arena for two years.

Duensing appears obsessed on building up the city’s reserve funds (contingency). While building the city’s reserve back up is necessary and critical his solutions are to keep the sales tax increase permanent and now, to raise Glendale’s property tax rate by 2%. He appears to have only two tricks in his bag.

Sterling Fluharty of the Glendale Star in writing an article entitled City decides not to cut taxes, in its online edition of April 6, 2015, reports, Glendale City Council had few objections two weeks ago when the acting city manager and financial director announced they were abandoning plans to lower the sales tax rate and making preparations for raising property taxes. Here is the link: http://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_b6c5e5e6-dc99-11e4-8961-4fb07a583a64.html#.VSNVhK1dGb8.twitter .

Last December Duensing was still pitching lowering the sales tax rate. Fluharty in his article states,  Duensing published a five-year financial forecast that month (December, 2014) that assumed the council would approve annual reductions, making the sales tax rate 2.85 percent in 2015-16, 2.825 percent in 2016-17, 2.8 percent in 2017-18 and 2.775 percent in 2019-20.” What information does senior management and the council have (not shared publicly) to cause them to not only reject a reduction in the sales tax rate but now to increase the property tax rate?

Since the new council was seated in January, 2012, adopting Duensing’s recommendations it has:

  • Made the increase of 2.9% as a temporary sales tax increase permanent
  • Approved a management agreement paying IceArizona $15 million a year
  • Will approve construction of a parking garage at Westgate for $46 million + over 3 years
  • Will approve a 2% increase in property taxes

Where is the council commitment to cut expenses and to live within the city’s means? It seems their only solutions to solving the city’s ongoing financial problems is to keep the increased sales tax rate and now to raise the property tax rate.

Over the next 3 years the General Fund will have to absorb an additional $46 million plus as brand new debt. That figure does not include the ongoing debt for the baseball park, the Westgate Media Center and is parking garage, the Westgate Convention Center, the annual $15 million payment to IceArizona and the construction debt on the arena and the Public Safety Training Facility…as well as other debt I have failed to include.

During council’s discussion of a property tax increse while the sales tax increase does not diminish Mayor Weiers said, “At least we’re giving our citizens something, certainly in the right direction, anyway.” What exactly are the Mayor and council giving to its citizens? A screwing? It appears the right direction for Mayor Weiers and this city council is to raise yet another tax.

©Joyce Clark, 2015

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Today, February 17, 2015 at 12:30 PM the Glendale City Council met and voted immediately to go into Executive Session. They returned from executive session at about 1:45 PM. There were two agenda items: the formal acceptance of City Manager Brenda Fischer’s resignation and appointment of an Interim City Manager.

I am pleased to report that the city council voted unanimously to accept Fischer’s resignation effective April 3, 2015. From February 17, 2015 (today) through April 3, 2015 she will be available as a consultant. Her consultancy services would be presented as a separate contract. Fischer leaves with a sweet severance package: an additional 9 months of salary in an amount of $152,981.00; no payout for accrued vacation and sick time; $2,200 for ?? (sorry, took notes fast and couldn’t catch what this was for); and she is released from any legal claims arising against the city during her tenure. If this is what it took, so be it.

The second item was the appointment of an Interim City Manager. I am pleased to report that Dick Bowers, former Scottsdale City Manager who assumed this role previously during the last search for a city manager, was approved on a 4-3 vote with Sherwood, Chavira and Aldama voting ‘no’. Wonder who Sherwood was advocating for? Could it have been Frisoni? Mr. Bowers has a wealth of experience and had proven that he will manage the day-to-day administrative affairs of the city without malice and will do no harm. Mr. Bowers facilitated many special city council affairs previously and I have always been impressed with his intelligence and professionalism. Thank you, city council, for doing the right thing.

The city council’s heavy lifting has just begun. Now it’s time for a search – hopefully a nationwide search for a new city manager. I wish them well. We, the public, will be watching.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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 Glendale city council has a once-in-lifetime opportunity. With the departure of former City Manager Brenda Fischer it has an opportunity to build a legacy of good government and meaningful leadership with its selection of the next City Manager.

City Managers since the departure in 2001 of City Manager, Dr. Martin Vanacour, created a culture of fear and dysfunctional ethical behavior among employees. The culture that grew after 2001 promoted a genuine distain for Glendale’s residents. While Brenda Fischer is the most recent city manager she is not totally responsible for a local governmental culture run amok.

For years and recently exacerbated, there has been a lack of employee confidence in senior management causing an exodus of talented professionals. Those who left observed the problems, refused to participate and simply moved on. The appointment of key personnel, from former city manager regimes, into positions of power (often abused) sent the wrong signal. At various times employees virtually spied on one another and have been required to report the context of any interaction with a councilmember to senior management. Various city managers instructed employees to withhold relevant information from selected councilmembers and in some cases, all councilmembers. Upper management has and currently still does, direct a certain viewpoint be presented to council rather than offering just the facts portraying both the negatives and positives of a proposal. The mantra delivered daily was “speak no evil” of or about Glendale. Massage negative perceptions and make them disappear.

Employees are trained to show the utmost respect for citizens. Yet these same employees are often sent out to shill an already preapproved and predetermined outcome to an unwitting public. The “Library War” is the most current example. It is far more important that they please the city manager than do the right thing for the good of the city and its residents.

Most personnel worked under these regimes silently. The few brave souls that witnessed unethical behavior or saw the use of misinformation and refused to lie about it blew the whistle and were forced out. Others, viewing the results, continued to keep silent and became complicit in allowing such a culture to thrive.

I am not referring, for want of a better term, to the “worker bees.” Worker bees are those men and women on the line delivering service daily, dealing one-on-one with residents’ concerns, picking up our trash, answering an emergency call or repairing a water line. Their culture is truly dedicated to Glendale’s residents.

Fischer’s misdeeds are merely the latest and most public demonstrations of a culture gone awry from the very top down. When employees see a city manager act unethically they quickly learn that it is acceptable. Such actions included the hiring of a then unqualified Frisoni as an Assistant City Manager; a public temper tantrum; the abrupt dismissal of Planning Director Jon Froke (more on this in an upcoming blog); allowing certain employees to resign and be rehired with a different title performing the same work for a lot more salary (more on this in an upcoming blog); and the request for targeted councilmembers’ emails.

Ed Beasley, a former City Manager, was known for his “inner circle” of senior personnel. He made sure his friends like Art Lynch (golden parachute) and Alma Carmichael (worked from Mississippi) were protected and his enemies…not so much. His control of the organization was absolute and he expected information on everyone and everything. When he received a majority of the council’s rebuke, no more than a slap on the wrist, for his DUI employees throughout the organization recognized he was unassailable. Another cultural message sent and received.

During the period when council was actively considering more personnel layoffs, Acting City Manager Horatio Skeete, remarked that he could not bring himself to recommend laying off employees because they were his “friends.” Another signal was sent throughout the organization – performance didn’t matter – it was who you knew. His message was clear – employees were more important than the financial health of the city.

What’s next? The council must appoint an Acting City Manager. That may occur as early as this Tuesday, February 17, 2015. Their best bet would be to ask Dick Bowers, former Scottsdale City Manager and Glendale’s Acting City Manager during council’s previous search. Mr. Bowers is a very intelligent man and understands the role of caretaker while the search is conducted. He also understands the principle of “do no harm.” Anyone currently within the Glendale organization who is appointed as Acting City Manager fully expects to vie for the job and expects it to be an advantage.

The search for a new City Manager should be a nationwide search. Hopefully council will select a candidate from Alaska or Timbuktu. This organization needs someone fresh, with no loyalties to specific personnel. This time a background check is required and someone should talk to candidate’s current management and line employees. Qualities to look for, in random order include:

  • Possesses integrity
  • Listens to all without prejudice
  • Welcomes change
  • Recognizes performance matters most
  • Encourages open two way dialogue
  • Interacts with all organizations and stakeholder interests within the community
  • Serves all councilmembers equally
  • Intelligent
  • Experienced
  • Ability to get along with all
  • Retain independence from council
  • Good communication skills
  • Can develop good rapport with council and employees
  • Although not required, someone who commits to living in Glendale

Will the Glendale city council squander this opportunity? It is possible. Four of the council were seated in January of 2012 and have two years each of current experience: Mayor Weiers, Vice Mayor Hugh (served on council for 5 years many years ago), Councilmembers Sherwood and Chavira. Three of the council were seated in January of this year and have two months each of experience: Councilmembers Turner, Tolmachoff and Aldama. Collectively the mayor and council have a total of 8 years and 6 months of council experience. While some of them have had other previous governmental experience (such as Mayor Weiers in state government) it’s not the same (no matter what they tell you) as serving on a local level as a councilmember.

Can council do their job of choosing a new City Manager effectively? Let’s hope they can. This time let’s hope that Councilmember Sherwood does not insert himself independently into the selection process and attempt to micromanage it in his favor. Let’s hope council can put political wrangling aside and realize the enormity of the challenge before them. Let’s hope they require the new city manager to clean house, eliminate protected classes of employees and restore organizational integrity and the people’s confidence in their local government. Let’s hope they possess the wisdom to allow the new city manager to do the job without their interference.

Let’s hope they can do the right thing.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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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